Book Chapter

The changing role of data in crime, criminal justice and criminology



Matthews B & McVie S (2023) The changing role of data in crime, criminal justice and criminology. In: Liebling A, Maruna S & McAra L (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Criminology. 7 ed. Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

First paragraph: Data has always been at the heart of criminological endeavours. Since the early work of Adolphe Quetelet, who first observed the constancy of crime patterns in the early 19th Century (Beirne 1987) and introduced the concept of the ‘dark figure of crime’ (Penney, 2014), data has come to pervade many areas of criminological scholarship and underpin some of its most important theoretical and conceptual developments. Of course, the role of data within criminology has not been without controversy. Considered by some a crude tool of the positivist tradition, quantitative criminologists have been parodied as ‘datasaurs’ who engage in a theoretical ‘voodoo criminology’ (Young, 2004, 2011). Yet, while it is essential to critique the types of data that are used, the statistical methods adopted, and the way in which numerical results are interpreted or presented, pitting ‘administrative criminology’ as antithetic to ‘critical’ or ‘cultural’ criminology has been divisive and unhelpful (Garland 2012, Hough 2014). Marginalising important areas of academic scholarship, and those who do it, while failing to recognise that the study of crime and justice requires a plurality of methodological approaches, runs the risk of intra disciplinary stagnation on the one hand and extradisciplinary appropriation of important criminological ideas on the other. Recent advances in technology, computer science and data expansion have fundamentally re-shaped society and impacted significantly on crime, and this ‘big data’ revolution has also created new ways of measuring, modelling and managing crime, with implications for what criminology is and how we approach it

Title of seriesOxford Handbook of Criminology
PublisherOxford University Press
Publisher URL…4?cc=gb&lang=en&
Place of publicationOxford

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Dr Ben Matthews

Dr Ben Matthews

Lecturer in Social Statistics&Demography, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology