Dark figure of crime

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In criminology and sociology, the dark figure of crime, hidden figure of crime, or latent criminality[1][2] is the amount of unreported or undiscovered crime.[3]


This gap between reported and unreported crimes calls the reliability of official crime statistics into question, but all measures of crime have a dark figure to some degree. The gap in official statistics is largest for less serious crimes.[3]

Comparisons between official statistics, such as the Uniform Crime Reports and the National Incident-Based Reporting System, and victim studies, such as the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), attempt to provide an insight into the amount of unreported crime.[4][5]

Self-report studies are also used in comparison with official statistics and organized datasets to assess the dark of crime.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ellis H. Crime and Control in the English Speaking Caribbean: A Comparative Study of Jamaica, Trinidad, Tobago and Barbados, 1960-1980 // Crime and Control in Comparative Perspectives, edited by Heiland, Shelley, and Katoh. – 1992. – p. 131-161
  2. ^ Oloruntimehin O. Crime and control in Nigeria // Crime and control in comparative perspectives. – 1992. – p. 163-188.
  3. ^ a b c Walsh, Anthony; Hemmens, Craig (2014). Introduction to Criminology: A Text/Reader (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4522-5820-1.
  4. ^ Maxfield, Michael G.; Weiler, Barbara Luntz; Widom, Cathy Spatz (2000). "Comparing Self-Reports and Official Records of Arrests". Journal of Quantitative Criminology. 16 (1): 87–110. doi:10.1023/a:1007577512038. S2CID 140785017.
  5. ^ Biderman, Albert D.; Lynch, James P.; Peterson, James L. (1991). Understanding Crime Incidence Statistics: Why the UCR Diverges from the NCS. New York, NY: Springer.

Further reading[edit]

  • Moore, S. (1996). Investigating Crime and Deviance. Harpers Collins. ISBN 0-00-322439-2, pages 211–220.
  • Coleman, C., & Moynihan, J. (1996). Understanding crime data: haunted by the dark figure. Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-19519-9.