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In this lesson, you’ll learn what constitutes the dark figure of crime theory.

Moreover, you’ll review the definition of the theory. Finally, you’ll examine several crime statistics.

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Definition of the Dark Figure of Crime

Do you ever wonder how crime statistics are generated? Where does the data come from, and is it accurate? The dark figure of crime refers to a term utilized by criminologists and others. The phrase is usually used to refer to the number of crimes that are not reported, but also refers to crimes that are unknown to all outside parties or law enforcement not accepting that the law has been broken. Crimes go unreported for various reasons, whether it’s from fear of reporting the crimes or from a fear of the police. The failure to report these crimes raises questions about the accuracy of crime statistics.Based upon the dark figure of crime theory, the crime statistics do not include the dark figure of unreported crimes.

Therefore, we do not truly know the specific details of the nature and extent of crimes which have been committed, so the statistics are, in actuality, inaccurate.

Statistics

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (also known as the FBI) Preliminary 2013 Semiannual Uniform Crime Report demonstrated that there was a decrease of 5.4% in the number of violent crimes for the first six months of 2013 as compared to 2012. In addition, property crimes for the first six months illustrated a 5.4% decrease in property crimes as compared to 2012. Lastly, arson decreased 15.6% as compared to 2012.

However, under the dark figure of crime theory, one must question whether these statistics are accurate if all crimes are not reported to the authorities. If one applies the dark figure of crime theory, then the figures are likely suspect and must be questioned. Moreover, the statistics cannot be deemed as reliable.

Lesson Summary

The dark figure of crime refers to a term utilized by criminologists and others. The phrase is usually used to refer to the number of crimes that are not reported, but also refers to crimes that are unknown to all outside parties or law enforcement not accepting that the law has been broken.The failure to report these crimes raises questions about the accuracy of crime statistics. Based upon the dark figure of crime theory, the crime statistics do not include the dark figure of unreported crimes.

Therefore, we do not truly know the specific details of the nature and extent of crimes which have been committed, so the statistics are, in actuality, inaccurate.

Learning Outcomes

After reviewing this lesson, you should have the ability to:

  • Describe the dark figure of crime theory
  • Explain how this theory relates to crime statistics

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