Trends in assault: on the relationship between the assault rate and selected social indicators in post-war Finland

This article examines to what extent different social indicators can explain statistically the development or changes in the volume of assaults. First, the development of recorded assault criminality in Finland during the time period 1950-2000 is examined. By comparison with victim surveys it is con...

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Published in:Journal of Scandinavian studies in criminology and crime prevention
Main Author: Sirén, Reino
Format: Electronic/Print Article
Language:English
Published: 2002
In:Journal of Scandinavian studies in criminology and crime prevention
Year: 2002, Volume: 3, Issue: 1, Pages: 22-49
Online Access: doi
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Availability in Tübingen:Present in Tübingen.
IFK: In: Z 181
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Summary:This article examines to what extent different social indicators can explain statistically the development or changes in the volume of assaults. First, the development of recorded assault criminality in Finland during the time period 1950-2000 is examined. By comparison with victim surveys it is concluded that the longterm increase of recorded assaults reflects partly the real development but is also partly a result of the increased rate of detection of violence. The urbanization of Finnish society is perhaps the key factor behind this development. It has inevitably increased factual physical opportunities for different kinds of violent encounters but at the same time also the probability that such incidents are registered. As factors that could potentially explain shortterm variation in the assault rate, selected social indicators such as alcohol consumption, rate of immigration and unemployment are examined. To guard against spurious relationships due to highly influential or outlying data points, a robust method of estimation of the regression model - the least median of squares - is also used. Of the indicators examined, consumption, private consumers' expenditure and the clearance rate of assaults have the best explanatory power. However, although the relationship of these indicators with annual changes alcohol in the assault rate is statistically significant, there should be no illusion about the ability to predict the future development of assault rate with precision using such social indicators. It is stressed that the assault rate is also determined by qualitative factors connected with opportunities for crimes and criminal motivation that can hardly be compressed into statistical timeseries or subjected to quantitative measurement
ISSN:1404-3858
DOI:10.1080/140438502762467191