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Governments academics and journalists often express an interest in cross-national crime comparisons particularly between Canada and the United States This interest stems from the desire to discover causal explanations for crime and to develop more effective criminal justice and social policies Archer Gartner 1984 Howard Newman Pridemore 2000 Unfortunately methodological complexities have placed considerable barriers to such comparisons Differences between national data sources both for police reported and victimization surveys have hampered accurate comparisons Despite these divergent national data collection systems the tendency has been to compare crime rates between countries with little or no attention to these limitations Recently the proliferation of the Internet has led to the growth in this type of misinformation Recognizing the methodological hurdles along with the benefits of comparing crime rates between Canada and the United States the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics has undertaken the task of assessing the feasibility of comparing police reported statistics between Canada and the United States This report which represents the first step of this study compares and contrasts the specific offence definitions classification and scoring rules between the Canadian and American Uniform Crime Reporting UCR surveys Where applicable this discussion notes modifications that could allow for reliable cross-national comparisons Official crime statistics also have general limitations Many crimes are never reported to or detected by police and consequently police reported data under-estimates the amount of crime especially for highly unreported crimes such as sexual assault National household victimization surveys including the American National Crime Victimization Survey NCVS and the Canadian General Social Survey GSS can estimate the amount of unreported crimes by capturing both offences that have been reported to police and those that have gone unreported While the rate of reportability may vary for each country the different survey designs prevent direct comparison between Canada and the United States Despite this inability it is reasonably safe to assume that the rate of reportability is similar between the two countries Ouimet
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