Abstract This article seeks to distinguish perspectives on the seriousness of crimes. Earlier research has sought to determine whether a consensus model or a conflict model best explains data concerning public opinion on crime seriousness. After a critical review of substantive and methodological studies of the problem, it is proposed that the Q-technique may be most appropriate for discovering the degree of local consensus concerning the seriousness of specific types of crime. Analysis of data collected by the use of Q-sorts reveals that while there is a general consensus concerning crimes involving loss of life or extreme personal injury, there is some disagreement concerning other types of crimes. Four different perspectives are distinguished and discussed. It is concluded that the use of factorial designs and the Q-technique may be the most fruitful approach to discerning subtle differences in perspectives concerning crime seriousness.