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Fourth United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice System (1986-1990)

NCJ Number
European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research Volume: 2 Issue: 4 Dated: (1994) Pages: 117-124
M Joutsen
Date Published
8 pages
The fourth United Nations survey of crime trends and the operation of criminal justice in its member countries covered 1986-90 and was designed to obtain both quantitative and qualitative data on reported crimes, clearance rates, suspects and offenders at different stages of criminal proceedings, sentences, and criminal justice resources.
The report on responses from Europe and North America is being prepared by the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control and will be submitted, together with other regional reports and the global report prepared by the Secretariat, to the Ninth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in April 1995. The problems with these surveys are common to all efforts to gather international criminal justice statistics. The most obvious problem is the imprecise definitions of terms, classifications, coding structures, and units of count used. The surveys include brief sections listing crucial definitions. Each successive survey instrument has tried to improve this section, using lessons learned from earlier surveys. Countries vary in their legal definitions, procedural differences, statistical classification of crime, rules for counting offenses, comprehensiveness of the statistics, and legal terminology. Other problems result from bureaucratic inertia, errors, nonresponses, and clerical errors. These issues highlight the question of whether and how it is possible to develop international crime statistics. It is unlikely that a uniform basis will be developed for international statistics. Thus, reports on the results of the United Nations surveys will have to be phrased cautiously.


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