Crime numbers may mislead

Crime numbers may mislead

Criminologists argue for considering underreporting and other sources of error

By Rachel Ehrenberg, 16:23 PM May 3, 2012

Overconfidence in crime statistics doesn’t pay. In a new study, a team of criminologists makes the case that reported crime rates should acknowledge uncertainty in the data. The research demonstrates that rankings of cities as safer or more dangerous — which can influence tourism and tax spending — can be highly misleading.

“If you look at crime rates from year to year and you see a change, there’s a fundamental ambiguity in whether that change is caused by a real change in crime, a change ...

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