Sociology Index


Dark figure of crime is unreported crime statistics. Because of underreporting of crime, criminologists often refer to a concept known as the 'dark figure of crime.' Dark figure of crime is committed, but does not appear in the criminal statistics. The total amount of crime in a community consists of crimes which are known or recorded and the dark figure of crime. The 'dark figure' in the dark figure of crime postulates that we do not know how much crime is out there and with current methods of studying the phenomenon of crime we have no way of knowing the truth. Considering the notion of a dark figure of crime is based on a positivist approach to criminology and assumes that crime is real or objective. Criminologists have used differing methods like victimization survey to try and decrease the amount of dark figure of crime or unrecorded crime.

When victims of crime do not report, or police are not made aware of a crime these crimes they become part of the dark figure of crime uncounted in the official statistics. It is difficult to determine that amount of crime that occurs in our communities every year because many crimes remain dark-figure of crime, never coming to the attention of the criminal justice system.

Research reveals, that on average, more than half of the nation’s violent crimes, or nearly 3.4 million violent victimizations per year, remained dark-figure of crime unreported to the police between 2006 and 2010, according to a new report published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Uniform Crime Report and the National Crime Victimization Survey are widely known sources of crime statistics, offering an analysis of crime data to figure out the dark figure of crime. But, there is no equivalent measure of campus crime at the national level. Therefore, campus crime is known as the dark figure of crime or the unknown crime.

An 18th-century theory used by sports-bettors, gamblers and even weather forecasters could help criminologists and policymakers uncover the so-called dark figure of crime, according to a British researcher. The study by Refat Aljumily, published this month in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, argues that Bayesian probability theory can fill the gap in crime statistics between officially reported crimes and those that are either never reported. The gap, long acknowledged by criminologists as the dark figure of crime, has led to fierce policy debates over crime rates and the prevalence of crimes such as domestic abuse that often are lost in official figures. 

Deviance, Crime and Social Control: the Dark Figure of Crime.
Hannah McGurk. PDF. In relation to the concept of the dark figure of crime, critically discusses the alternative forms of data that may provide a clearer picture of the true extent of crime in society.

Research Strategy for Bringing to Light the Dark Figure of Campus Crime: Journal: Campus Law Enforcement Journal Volume:34 Issue:6 Dated: November/December 2004. Giuseppe M. Fazari Ph.D.: Karen E. Breseman National Institute of Justice/NCJRS.
Abstract: Campus crime is known as the dark figure of crime or the unknown crime. This research article attempts to develop a methodology in examining campus crime to mitigate a previous failure to account for campus crime. It demonstrates the consequences of such a void by examining the differences between undergraduate incident reports and survey responses of theft victimization, a prevalent campus crime. First it begins by reviewing existing literature which substantiates the need for a methodology examining the dark figure of crime in Campus.

The dark figure of crime and its impact on the criminal justice system
Doorewaard, Cecili, Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology, Volume 27, Number 2, 1 January 2014.
The dark figure of crime still remains a pivotal point amongst citizens and criminal experts alike. This article explores what impact unreported crime might hold for the criminal justice system. Both members of the public and criminal justice system experts participated in the study on which the article is based. Their reasons, perceptions and insights into unreported crime was examined and a conclusion drawn as to whether and to what extent unreported crime affects the criminal justice system.