The Research Process: Practical Exercise Using Secondary Data, A Case of Crime Offences Recorded in City of London

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The Research Process: Practical Exercise Using Secondary Data, A Case of Crime Offences Recorded in City of London

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Introduction

The research process is an organized inquiry where researchers seek to provide answers to some problems affecting the society or worth the inquiry. Research normally seeks to explain social phenomenon through an informed process (Mcneill and Chapman, 2005, 7). Throughout the study of research one has to understand the methodology, tools and techniques used in research. Interpretation and evaluation of data is also an important aspect in research since new findings help to formulate policies to address pertinent issues in society. Such datasets are mostly quantitative where attention is given on measurement of the characteristics displayed by people or events under study (Thomas, 2003, 1).

Research problem

The first step in any research process is the identification of a research problem that needs to be solved (Singh, 2007, 62). To demonstrate a clear understanding of the research tools and processes and their application in applied social research, data on reported crimes in England and Wales has been obtained from Home Office website which keeps datasets on various issues in the United Kingdom (UK).  The data will be interpreted and evaluated quantitatively using various techniques learnt out throughout the course. Crime in UK has been a major issue and the police force together with other security organs has been keen to prevent and contain their occurrences. Crime has taken a centre stage in security policy formulation especially at this time when UK and its Allies are under the threat of terrorism and increased unemployment due to financial crises. Quantitative data to be used in this assignment is obtained from the Offences recorded by the police in England and Wales by offence and Police force area file, available from the Home Office, UK website. Due to the large size of the dataset, the study will focus its analysis on crime trends in the City of London which is one of the largest cities not only in UK but also in the world.  For example, in London offences recorded on violence against persons with injury were 219 by 2000/01 and 289 by 2010/11, total robbery 53 and 43, sexual offences, 15 and 39 for the same period respectively. Crimes across various categories have increased though marginally. Analysis of the crimes record for the period 2005/06- 2010/11 will help to inform security policies in metropolitan towns where crimes management is an often issue due to their large size.

Methodology

The methodology to be employed will be evaluative in nature where descriptive statistics will be used to show frequencies, mean and mode occurrences of various crime categories. Include its strength and limitations. Normally descriptive statistics summarize or help explain a given data set where inferences and policy implication can be made (Singh, 2007, 125). Interpretations and evaluation of quantitative data using descriptive statistics often involves computation of variances, rates of change as well as frequency of occurrence. Analysis will be carried out using excel since it’s an advanced spread sheet with lessons from SPSS class being incorporated to polish up the work.

This method is appropriate because it allows easier comparison of variables and establishes causal effects. Such an analysis is essential for policy makers as it’s possible to determine mitigation strategies by arresting causal variables. For example, if increase in firearms correlates with high incidences of violent crimes it therefore makes sense to reduce access to firearms and violent crimes will be largely addressed. In addition, the methodology allows for easier comparison of related variables over time and space. However, due to the evolving nature of human behaviour, at times its difficult to purely rely on descriptive statistics to predict have phenomenon under study will be in future. For example, incidences of a given crime in different areas may require different approach due to historical or social cultural underlying factors identical to each area.

Interpretation and evaluation of quantitative data on Crime in City of London

This section puts into practice the lessons learnt in the class by evaluating and interpreting crimes data in London and Wales where focus is given to City of London. Analysis of crimes recorded data is for the period 2005/06 to 2010/11.

Changes in crimes/ offences recorded in City of London

It should be understood from the onset that the figures appearing here are only for the offences recorded and not the actual number of crimes committed. It’s common knowledge that most crimes/ offences go unreported. However, offences recorded still remains a good indicator of crimes occurrences and trend.

Table 1: Changes in the total number of crimes, 2005/06 – 2010/11

Year

Total No. of Offences

% Change

2005/06

8432

100%

2006/07

7973

-5.44%

2007/08

7572

-5.03%

2008/09

7275

-3.92%

2009/10

6532

-10.21%

2010/11

6374

-2.42%

Source: Home Office, UK, 2011

From table 1 above it is evident that crimes in the City of London have been on the decline over the last six years. The year 2009/10 witnessed the most reduction in total number of crimes recorded of about 10% while the city average was about 5% reduction annually. The continued reduction could be an indicator of improved surveillance and adoption of better preventive measures. Specific research and planning units for developing met.............


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