Official crime data utilized by criminal justice agencies is official crime data which has been collected by means of statistics compiled from reported crime, arrests, and convictions. Some strengths of official crime data is this type of data is easy to access with little cost, it is collected and standardized in a systematic and scientific way, and it allows the user to compare different groups. Some disadvantages of official crime data is that it may not always show the whole picture with regard to a criminal’s socio-economicbackground, cannot record a person’s story, and the data can be one sided regarding who is inputting the data.Though the information is real time, and for the most part accurate not all crime is reported and the data is very generalized, meaning the data does not concentrate on sub-groups (Thornbrerry, 2003).

However, the onset of self-reporting surveys enabled criminal justice professionals to gather data from sub-groups criminal justice professionals were seeking, especially from adolescents. While self-reporting studies gave researchers the ability to target specific groups and gather more specific data, whether those being reported on were truthful about crimes committed and other questions was up for interpretation (Thornberry, 2003). According to Thornberry (2003), “The survey design was sensitive to a number of methodological deficiencies of prior self-report studies and has been greatly instrumental in improving the self-report method. The NYS is also noteworthy because it is a panel design, having followed the original respondents into their thirties” (para. 13). There have been many innovations with self-reporting surveys since the surveys onset. According to Elliot (2017), “Self-report measures are thus an alternative measure of crime that is conceptually a more direct measure of criminal behavior, captures crimes known and unknown to law enforcement, and avoids the selective reporting and processing biases potentially inherent in the more limited official record measures of responses to crime. It has become the mainstay in criminological research, particularly in etiological studies” (para. 1).

Proverbs 18:17 states, “The person who tells one side of a story seems right, until someone else comes and asks questions.” Criminal justice leaders need data that is not biased, or at least data from both sides. Police officers and those inputting information into official crime data bases are human beings, and as such may view things differently from those on the other side of the law. While those individuals on the other side of the law may or could be criminals, a good leader will always listen to decide a the best course of action for the greater good of all.


Elliott, D. (2017). Self-Report Crime Surveys. Retrieved from

Thornberry, T. P. (2003). Comparison of Self-Report and Official Data for Measuring Crime. Retrieved from

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