The pitfalls of revising crime information systems: A case study of the justice department

Abstract:
Experts working with data on crime, victims and offenders, or the criminal justice system, have been drawing attention to the shortcomings in their recording and reporting systems. Such shortcomings result in a biased or incomplete depiction of crime statistics and trends as well as sentencing, which can have a negative impact on how penal policy is formulated and assessed. Current efforts to revise official crime statistics aim to unify and integrate the information systems of the different criminal justice institutions that generate such data. However, these systems do not only vary across different departments but also within the same department or even institution. The authors use the findings from their recent study in which they analyzed the current system for recording and reporting data on violent sexual crime and the application of quasi-compulsory treatment and security detention. They illustrate the complexity of the issue, highlighting some characteristic shortcomings of official crime statistics, and put forth some of the practical implications for our understanding of crime and criminal justice and the penal policy-making process.

Keywords:
crime statistics; information systems; violent sex crime; security detention

Authors:
Šárka Blatníková, Petr Zeman

DOI:

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