Are news headlines depicting a true representation of the level of crime in today’s society or do these sometimes-sensational headlines only serveto create a society of fear? When discussing crime and crime statistics, thenews media are actually discussing the crime rate in any one area over acertain period of time. However crime and the definition of crime is not staticand is subject to alteration though elements like social change and themodification of crime classifications. By looking at how crime is defined, howcrime statistics are recorded and compiled by various agencies such as AnGarda Siochana, and how hidden crime, by the very fact it is unreported and therefore unrecorded, can effect the public’s view of crime in society this article shows how crime itself is difficult to define and understand in its entirety. Eachconcept has been approached in a manner that can be easily understood byacademics and non-academics alike allowing the reader to decide for him or herself whether crime is being sensationalised by the news media and asks thequestion, can one say that crime statistics alone provide a true representationof crime in a society?
crime, criminology, definition of crime, classification of crime, social change, crime statistics, recording crime, changing crime, An GardaSiochana, PULSE, Central Statistics Office, Headline / Non Headline offence,hidden crime, crime and victimisation survey.
“The role of the media in terms or reportage of incidents and public response istherefore of importance. In a very real sense it is more than just the disseminator of information: it is the creator of response” (Fennell, 1993, p28) Media portrayal of crime helps to form our understanding. From sources like newspapers welearn not only how much and what types of crime there is in our society but also where thesecrimes most commonly occur and who is most at risk. But most of what is reported in themedia comes from sources other than personal experience, i.e. from crime statistics.At first glance crime statistics seem clear cut. They help identify crime ‘hot spots’ and toformulate new policies in order to prevent crime. This assignment will look at some of thefactors that can affect the validity of crime statistics, such as social change, alterations tooffence classifications and unreported crime, and aim to show that if one probes a littledeeper crime statistics are only a partial view of society and crime is indeed difficult to notonly define but to measure in its entirety.