Making Crime Count
Contains Bibliography, Index
Jeffrey Moon is head of the Documents Reference/Data Centre at Queen’s
In Making Crime Count, Kevin Haggerty looks at the institutional
production of crime statistics rather than at the statistics themselves.
The influence of background processes in producing official numbers on
crime and deviance is a largely overlooked area of crime research.
Haggerty bases his thesis on research conducted during a six-month
sabbatical at the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) in 1996.
CCJS is the branch of Statistics Canada responsible for gathering and
reporting data on the criminal-justice system. Haggerty conducted his
research using formal taped interviews, informal conversations, and
detailed review and analysis of CCJS documents.
Haggerty quotes Sir Leon Radzinowicz: “Crime statistics are like
French bathing suits: what they reveal is highly suggestive but what
they hide is vital.” While I don’t want to take this analogy too
far, this book does much to unveil what is hidden about crime
statistics. Haggerty demonstrates a clear understanding of the myriad of
factors that influence the planning, production, and eventual release of
crime statistics. He looks at the political, statistical, and financial
filters that determine what is measured, how it is measured, and,
ultimately, how it is reported. Specific examples, such as the Uniform
Crime Reports, the Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS), and Juristat,
are used to illustrate the behind-the-scenes processes. The book has an
objective yet investigative tone, and makes extensive use of direct
quotes. This personal connection adds credibility to the overall work.
Haggerty’s writing style is clear and he pulls no punches: for
example, his take on the controversy surrounding the VAWS is
refreshingly candid. The book has 14 pages of references and is well
indexed. Readers will not have to be statistical junkies to find
Haggerty’s treatment of the backroom decision-making behind the
Canadian crime-statistics machine fascinating.