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Statistics and Crime

Key Reading

  • Clive Emsley, Crime and Society in England, chapter 2

Primary Sources

Scholarship on using crime statistics

  • John Archer, 'Mysterious and suspicious deaths: missing homicides in North West England', Crime, History and Society, 12 (2008)
  • Clive Emsley, 'An aspect of Pitt's "terror": prosecutions for sedition during the 1790s'. Social History, 6 (1981)
  • V A C Gattrell and T B Hadden, 'Criminal Statistics and their interpretation', in E A Wrigley (ed.), Nineteenth Century Society
  • V A C Gatrell, 'The decline of theft and violence in Victorian and Edwardian England', in V A C Gatrell, B Lenman and G Parker, Crime and the Law
  • D Hay, 'War, dearth and theft in the eighteenth century', Past and Present, 95 (1982)
  • Peter King, 'Newspaper reporting, prosecution practice and perceptions of urban crime', Continuity and Change, 2 (1987)
  • Robert Morris, 'Lies, damned lies and criminal statistics', Crime, History and Society, 5 (2001)
  • David Philips, Crime and Authority in Victorian England
  • Howard Taylor, 'Rationing crime: the political economy of criminal statistics', Economic History Review, 51 (1998)
  • Howard Taylor, 'The Politics of rising crime statistics of England and Wales, 1914-60', Crime History and Society, 2 (1998)
  • J J Tobias, Crime and Industrial Society, esp chapter 2 and appendix
  • Chris A Williams, 'Counting crimes or counting people: some implications of mid-nineteenth-century police returns', Crime History and Society, 4 (2000)

General reading on statistics for Historians

Questions to bear in mind:

  • How do we measure the rise and fall of crimes in different periods?
    • Do particular crimes differ?
  • What are the challenges of using crime statistics for the historian? Do historians agree about their utility?
  • What sorts of figures are available?
  • Are the figures manipulated by the authorities?