Dark figure of crime

As underreporting or even "dark number" is generally understood to be the ratio between the number of statistically recorded and the real crime committed. The name comes from the criminal statistics, today it is also used extended.


Originally, it rests on a false translation of the English phrase "dark number" (dark count) in a German dissertation, taken in 1908 by a Japanese prosecutor ( Shigema Oba ) was prepared. In the following years it has become customary in the German research, even if the actual number does not denote a digit, but a number.

In the field of criminology, the number of unreported cases is largely identical to the dark field. Based on the collection of empirical data by means of representative surveys we see today able to some extent to estimate the number of unreported and brighten the dark field. However, a precise elucidation of unreported cases is not possible.

Uses outside the Krimnalstatistik

Underreporting is also used in road traffic accidents. Here he refers to accidents that do not get the police to knowledge and thus not included in the official accident statistics. This is particularly single-vehicle accidents, but especially in bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents with motor vehicles and personal injury accidents are often not reported. Through surveys and comparisons with medical or hospital records the number of unreported cases is estimated. Thus, for example, reach nearly 99 percent of bicycle - only vehicle, the police did not note in accidents between cyclists and cars only 82 percent of the accidents have been received in the accident statistics.

In a figurative sense underreporting is also used in health care and refers to a mismatch of diagnosed (or statistically recorded or reported ) cases of illness to the actual disease frequency ( prevalence).