Over on Politics SE, we often have questions about law enforcement policies and crime statistics, especially when big events related to law enforcement occur (i.e, the last couple weeks in the US). The questions about policies are fully on-topic there, but questions purely about current or historical crime statistics are a bit iffy and it'd be great to point those questions towards a site where they would be a better fit.

So, are questions regarding crime statistics on-topic here on Law? For example, this question over on Politics is what prompted me to ask this question here. It is essentially asking for crime statistics for different demographics, and while the data certainly has political implications the question is only focused on the statistics themselves. Would that sort of question be accepted here?

I haven't looked at Law much before now, but judging by most of the existing questions this sort of thing likely wouldn't be on-topic, though it's not fully clear:

  • According to the help page about what's on topic, Law seems to focus solely on questions regarding specific application of laws, how individuals interact with a legal system, references to decisions, and things along those lines, and most of the questions seem to stick to that.
  • I wasn't able to find anything conclusive on Law Meta. This question implies that some politics-related questions could be on topic if the focus is on the legal aspects, and this question states that general questions regarding law are on-topic, but the example on-topic questions are about applications of laws (does X count as homicide in Y jurisdiction) rather the effects of laws (how many people have been arrested for X type of homicide in Y jurisdiction).
  • However, I've found a few questions that are more focused on broad statistics or research: this question asking for research comparing certain legal system aspects, this question asking for historical incarceration statistics, and the reference-request tag which is "For requests to off-site resources, statistics, and other information.", so it seems like at least some statistics questions are on-topic.

3 Answers 3


Depends on the question

Crime statistics on its own is not a good fit. However, if the question is about the effect of laws or legal systems and natural experiments caused by different jurisdictions or different epochs and the focus is on the legal aspects then it's a definite maybe.

Other sites that might be relevant depending on the thrust of the question are:

  • Politics which is where you started.
  • Cross Validated if it's about the statistics themselves.
  • Economics if it's about incentives and people's response to them.
  • History if it's about change over time or crime in different time periods.
  • Skeptics if it's about debunking (or bunking?) a particular claim about crime.

I don't think so. These are fundamentally not questions about the law or legal process.

Asking for statistics that help illuminate a particular point of law or explain something about the legal process should be fine, the same as asking about cases that show it.

Asking about statistics of what happened where is no more about the law than it is about history. People seeking such information are best directed to Open Data SE, though that site may have further constraints.


No: Such questions are most likely off topic here.

Law.SE tries to deal with what the law is. We generally reject questions about why the law is what it is (see Can "*Why* a law exists" be on topic?), and I believe will likewise continue to reject questions about what systemic effects or outcomes the law produces, which is another way of approaching the same underlying question.

The one good counter-example you point to is Any solid research on error rate of criminal conviction system: jury vs judges? which slipped by because it is a question about legal systems themselves, and because it got a phenomenal answer.

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