Crime reporting and intervention. Psychology of Crime. Will the victim report the crime?. Social influence.
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The majority (78%) of victims of sexual assault at a rape crisis centre talked to others about the crime and of these 76% received advice and of these 84% followed the advice. A similar pattern occurred for a sample of burglary, theft and robbery victims who had reported the crime to the police.
Sixty-two per cent talked to others before reporting the crime, 58% of these received advice and 95% of these followed the advice. Of course, these are victims who made the decision eventually to report the crime. It is difficult to generalise from this to victims in general, many of whom decide not to report the crime.
Greenberg and Beach (2001) contacted a sample from the community at random by telephone. Anyone agreeing to take part was asked whether they had been a victim of a crime in the previous 12 months. Those over 18 years of age who had been victims of burglary or theft and were personally responsible for the decision of whether or not to report the crime to the police were interviewed in greater depth. About half had reported the crime to the police.
Again, a majority (three-fifths) discussed the crime with others before making the decision of whether or not to report the crime to the police. Family members (60%) and friends (24%) were the major categories of people with whom the events were discussed. Mostly (i.e. in 61 % of cases) this social contact was actually present when the crime was discovered. Forty-seven per cent of those who talked about the crime before making the reporting decision had also received advice from that other person.
The most powerful factor in the decision to report the crime to the police (once demographic variables such as age, sex and race had been taken into account) was the type of advice given by those around the victim. So, if the advice was to call the police then this was extremely influential in the sense that the victim would call the police in a high proportion of instances. The type of crime was important since burglaries were much more likely to be reported than theft.
1. Reward/costs driven - basically are the gains of going through the reporting process and possibly court appearances as a witness sufficiently warranted by the monetary value of their loss. If the value of the loss is small then victims will be less likely to report the crime to the police. Inthe study, this was measured on the basis of the amount stolen in dollars.
2. Affect driven - the arousal of emotion on being victimised may influence reporting in a number of ways. The more emotionally arousing it is then the more their attention will continue to be focused on the crime and the more likely they are to report. Alternatively, a crime that raises fear or anger may arouse patterns of behaviour which involve seeking the protection of the legal system by reporting the matter. Emotional arousal was assessed by asking how they felt immediately after becoming aware of the crime - such as how angry, afraid and upset.
3. Socially driven - the decision to report the crime is taken under the influence of significant social others who advise or inform the victim about what to do. If the victim had been advised to call the police immediately after the crime had been discovered then the report was classified as socially driven.
The incidence is the average crime rate over the whole population; the prevalence is that percentage of the population who actually experience crime.
Thus surveys reveal that burglaries are most prevalent in inner city areas; cars parked on the street at night are more likely to be stolen; and that it is not the elderly but young males, who typically have assaulted others themselves, who are the most likely victims of assault.
Victim surveys provide a good picture of the type and amount of crime but they are not without drawbacks.
The figures they produce will always underestimate the amount of crime: they focus on offences against the person and against property, omitting the whole area of \'white-collar crime such as fraud and embezzlement (e.g. Levi 1984).
Nevertheless, the figures produced by crime surveys are an important source of information about crime: as such they therefore have great potential for shaping theories of crime and influencing political and social policies towards managing and controlling crime.
which emerges from the self-report studies, is that the official figures underestimate the true extent of crime, especially amongst the young.
Indeed, Hood and Sparks (1970) suggest that the official figures represent on average only one-quarter of those who actually commit offences: in other words, they estimate that the Dark Figure is actually about four times greater than the official figure.
Advocates of self-report studies pointed to the advantages of the methodology in that it not only gives a picture of crime involving victims, but also includes\'victimless\' crimes such as drug abuse and vandalism.
Such doubts led a number of investigators to refine the self-report methodology to include reliability checks on the data.
The most frequently used verification technique is to compare self-report with police records.
Studies using this check have found high degrees of agreement between the two measures of offending (Blackmore 1974).
Other verification methods include using peer informants to ensure reports match; testing respondents twice to determine if their answers remain constant; and including lie questions in the schedule as a general check on honesty.
Hindelang et el. (1981), following a comprehensive review of self-report methodology, conclude that the match is a good one between self-report data and official recording.
However, despite the assurances of researchers such as Hindelang et el, the trend in recent times has moved away from offender surveys to victim surveys.
One reason for this is that not only can victim surveys reveal information about crime, but also they can be used to gather data on other issues such as public attitudes towards crime and public fear of crime.