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Crime reporting and intervention. Psychology of Crime. Will the victim report the crime?. Social influence.

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social influence
Social influence
  • 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.
social influence4
Social influence
  • 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
Greenberg and Beach (2001)
  • 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.
greenberg and beach 20016
Greenberg and Beach (2001)
  • 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.
greenberg and beach 20017
Greenberg and Beach (2001)
  • 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.
greenberg and beach 20018
Greenberg and Beach (2001)
  • The financial loss had a significant but small influence on the willingness to report as did generalised arousal which is a sort of measure of the emotional response the victim had to the crime.
greenberg and beach 2004
Greenberg and Beach (2004)
  • Greenberg and Beach (2004) studied how victims of property crime decide to report the crime to the police. They found that the decision-making process includes three broad mechanisms:
  • 1. Reward/costs driven
  • 2. Affect driven
  • 3. Socially driven
reward costs driven
Reward/costs driven
  • 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.
affect driven
Affect driven
  • 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.
socially driven
Socially driven
  • 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.
victimisation surveys british crime survey
Victimisation surveys- British Crime Survey.
  • This survey selects 40,000 households from using delivery post codes, with the aim of interviewing one person aged 16 years or older from each household.
  • The survey achieves an 80 per cent success rate in striving to achieve that particular sample.
  • Latest versions have ethnic minority sub samples to improve representativeness.
across studies a consistent pattern of findings emerges
Across studies a consistent pattern of findings emerges.
  • The most notable is the extent of crime, as Sparks's notes: 'Criminal victimization is an extremely rare event. . . crimes of violence are extremely uncommon' (1981: 17).
  • Indeed, M. Hough and Mayhew (1983) estimate that the 'statistically average' person over the age of 16 years can expect to be burgled once every 40 years, and to be robbed once every 500 years
sparks 1981
Sparks (1981)
  • estimates about 90 per cent, report no experience of crime.
  • On the other hand, some people report being involved in a series of incidents, having been the victims of two, three, four, or even more crimes.
  • This leads to the important distinction between the
    • incidence of victimisation
    • and the prevalence of victimisation.
incidence and prevalence
Incidence and prevalence
  • 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.
evaluative points
Evaluative points:
  • 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).
evaluative points18
Evaluative points:
  • The problems of respondent accuracy, as with offender surveys, also apply to victim surveys.
  • Other factors such as the type of interview (by telephone or in person), interviewer characteristics (such as age and sex).
  • Similarly Sparks et at. (1977) found that the amount of crime reported was related to the respondent's level of educational achievement.
evaluative points19
Evaluative points:
  • 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.
evaluative points20
Evaluative points:
  • In summary, surveys of both offenders and victims confirm that the Dark Figure exists, and that it is substantially greater than official figures.
  • However, given the methodological limitations of surveys, it is prudent to exercise caution in attempting to ascribe exact numerical values to the Dark Figure.
what is the incidence of crime
What is the incidence of crime?
  • The 2005/6 British Crime Survey- You have this or can get a summary on-line.
offender surveys
Offender surveys
  • These are surveys based on a sample of individuals with a criminal record.
  • Using a sample of 137 male sexual offenders, Groth et al (1982) asked them about the number of sexual offences committed.
  • Their confidentiality was assured.
  • The researchers found many undetected offences - an average of five for each offender.
  • This suggests that sexual offences could be severely under-recorded by the police.
an alternative method
An alternative method
  • is to ask individuals without criminal records if they have committed undetected offences.
  • Furnham and Thompson (1991) found that 88% of undergraduates asked had drunk alcohol under the age of sixteen, and 74% had viewed an '18' certificate film under age.
  • Most of the offences were trivial, with only 1 % admitting to theft. However, there is always the question as to whether these types of self-reported surveys are accurate.
  • Individuals could exaggerate or not admit to some crimes.
belson 1975
Belson (1975)
  • A British study of theft conducted by Belson (1975) illustrates a typical survey.
  • A sample of 1,445 boys, aged from 13 to 16 years, was randomly selected from a large sample of London households.
  • Interviews with the boys revealed that approximately 70 per cent of the sample had stolen from a shop, and about 17 per cent had stolen from private premises.
  • Thus the majority of boys had committed an offence for which, had they been caught, they would have been liable to prosecution.
the general picture
The general picture,
  • 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.
evaluative points26
Evaluative points:
  • Critics of self-report studies pointed to several shortcomings, the principal one being confidence in the veracity of the data.
  • Does the respondent always tell the truth?
  • Are some crimes withheld, others invented or exaggerated?
evaluative points27
Evaluative points:
  • Further research showed that a number of interviewer and interviewee characteristics –
    • age,
    • sex,
    • socio-economic status,
    • and race
  • could influence the quality of information.
evaluative points28
Evaluative points:
  • Additionally there may be sampling problems:
    • if a survey is carried out at a school, for example, it will lose those absent or playing truant - who may be engaged in committing the more serious crimes.
evaluative points29
Evaluative points:
  • 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.
evaluative points30
Evaluative points:
  • 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.
evaluative points31
Evaluative points:
  • 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.