Measuring Crime: Behind the Statistics

Crime statistics are everywhere, but how do you know when they’re valid? If a newspaper report says "the rate of overall violent crime decreased by 0.9 percent," how can you tell where that statistic came from, what it measures, and how accurate it is? Is it worth repeating or sharing? Measuring Crime: Behind the Statistics gives you the tools to interpret and evaluate crime statistics’ quality and usefulness.

The book focuses on ways of thinking about crime statistics (no formulas!) and features

  • Eight questions you should ask before quoting a statistic

  • The two sources of information about homicide

  • FBI statistics: what do they measure?

  • How victimization surveys can reflect your experiences even though you were not asked to participate

  • Special considerations when interpreting statistics about sexual assault and fraud

  • Examples of experiments and studies on how to improve crime statistics

  • Two online supplements containing additional details and links to data sources (download from buttons to the left)

Whether you are a law enforcement professional, journalist, student, or interested citizen, Measuring Crime: Behind the Statistics will tell you how to read statistics as a statistician would.

Table of Contents:

  1. Thinking Statistically About Crime

  2. Homicide

  3. Police Statistics

  4. National Crime Victimization Survey

  5. Sampling Principles and the NCVS

  6. NCVS Measurement and Missing Data

  7. Judging the Quality of a Statistic

  8. Sexual Assault

  9. Fraud and Identity Theft

  10. Big Data and Crime Statistics

  11. Crime Statistics, 1915 and Beyond