Essay 1
By: Dylan Brown
Tutor-marker: Jenny Benoit
CRIM 101 C100

Race-crime statistics, and the questions surrounding the ethical collection and

distribution of data pertaining to the race or ethnicity of criminal offenders and

victims of crime, is a controversial topic that is highly debated amongst modern-

day criminologists (Sacco & Kennedy, 2011). The Canadian Centre for Justice

Statistics, in collaboration with policing agencies throughout Canada, is the

agency in charge of assembling crime figures that are reported to police through

the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (Sacco & Kennedy, 2011.) Since 1962, the

federal government, media, researchers and the general public have used the

UCR survey. The UCR survey annually produces a record of every criminal

event that has been reported to and investigated by the police, including

characteristics such as the pending status of incidents and certain information of

the person or persons charged (Sacco & Kennedy, 2011). Although the

Canadian Government does allow race indication for Aboriginals under the

"Aboriginal identifier," (Sacco & Kennedy, 2011) current policy states that

statistics concerning the ethnical background or racial classification of offenders

and victims are not permitted to be included in police reports. In turn, potentially

critical data is overlooked, limiting government ability to enact informed policy

and legislative decisions, as well as reducing the means for researchers to

examine particular issues about crime.

Criminologists who are against the collection of race-crime statistics

support their stance by utilizing various arguments. Generally, there is a

consensus that any positive outcomes resulting from the information collected is

far outmatched by the vulnerability for information to become harmful, or perhaps

even manipulated in order to further racist ideology (Sacco & Kennedy, 2011).

Julian Roberts (1994) a criminologist and Associate Editor of the Canadian

Journal of Criminology, supports the notion that any overrepresentation resulting

from the compiling of these statistics is subject to potential discrimination. This

risk is increased by the difficulties presented by attempting to define and

categorize a person's race, given that the term "race" is essentially a socially

constructed classification system with no concrete definition. Roberts also argues

that these difficulties provide unstable framework for police training, resulting in

an inhibited ability for officers to accurately document race-crime statistics in the

field (Cartwright, 2014).

Other researchers approach the discussion of race-crime statistics with a

more tolerant perspective. Dr. Thomas Gabor, a former professor of Criminology

at the University of Ottawa for over 30 years, argues that rather than suppress

information due to the assumed sensitivity associated with the subject, crime

statistics are a matter of national security, and that any information omitted is a

violation of the publics right to information (Gabor, 1994). Gabor (1994) says that

due to the lack of data, the tendency for false reports on the criminal activity of

particular ethnic groups to be conceived as fact is increased. Crime statistics that

are comprised by regulated procedures lead to verifiable results with greater

degrees of integrity (Gabor, 1994). Therefor, statistics comprised of ethical,

professional compilation methods could have a tendency to portray lower levels

of crime involvement associated with particular ethnic groups than that of

misleading media reports or "word-of-mouth" gossip (Gabor, 1994, p.157). These

results could also be vital in assisting elected officials and community planners

identify, diagnose and revamp possible contributing issues that incorrectly effect

the criminal representation of a certain ethnic group in their community (Gabor,


Gabor offers an alternative that could act as a solution to Roberts claims

that police would be unable to correctly document race-crime statistics due to a

lack of training and the enigma surrounding the term "race." Forget about the

term "race" altogether. Instead, develop and incorporate a method of

determination in which the offender or victim's ethnicity is reflective of the country

in which they are born (Gabor, 1994). This would give police established

procedures that are easier to adhere to, provide the federal government with data

to assess countries whose immigrants could pose a greater threat to national

sovereignty, and allow researchers to observe the relationship between

offenders, victims, and their countries of origin (Gabor, 1994).

The Canadian Governments current policy on excluding the collection of

data in regards to the race or ethnicity of offenders and victims equally limits the

abilities of