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Crime statistics may be exaggerated

Posted: January 1, 2011 9:48 p.m.
Updated: January 2, 2011 4:30 a.m.

Most everyone knows that statistics can be misleading. While The Signal’s Wednesday headline story, “Crime down from 2009,” may be good news, it also may be misleading, exaggerated or completely incorrect.

Crimes that actually occur may not correspond to those that are reported. The following is admittedly an overstated example, but should get the point across.

If city “A” had a police force of 1,000 in the year 2009, and the reported crime of all types was 3,400, but in 2010, the reported crime of all types was only 1,947, we could assume that crime has gone down. However, if the city, for whatever reason, had reduced its police force from 1,000 in 2009 to only 700 in 2010, the number of crimes reported would be reduced — not because crimes had gone down, but because number of policemen who discover crimes and/or report them had been reduced.

There are other reasons crime statistics can be misleading, but let’s hope that crime really has gone down.

Happy new year!


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