by Bruno AUBUSSON de CAVARLAY – april 2013
Bruno AUBUSSON de CAVARLAY, researcher at the CESDIP, has conducted studies on penal tracks and quantitative analysis of the criminal justice process. He is working on developing long-term statistical bases with police, court and correctional series.
Police statistics are frequently used for the quantitative estimation of juvenile offending, particularly so since the series of figures available cover a long period. Series going back to 1974 may be established, provided some precautions are taken, whereas alternative sources are underdeveloped in France. Even people who are suspicious of “État 4001figures” (see below) for crime and misdemeanours in general tend to be more pragmatic when looking at the evolution or geographic distribution of juvenile offending. The idea, in these instances, is that it is better to have figures for what the French call “apparent” offending because it is recorded at the entering point in the criminal justice system than nothing at all. Hence our reminder, below, of the limits to the use of police criminal statistics, after which we go on to comment some long-term findings, in compliance with these basic methodological rules.