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Obscene, Threatening and Other Troublesome Telephone Calls to Women in England and Wales: 1982-1992

NCJ Number
W Buck; M Chatterton; K Pease
Date Published
59 pages
Data from four surveys are used to describe trends in the prevalence and characteristics of obscene telephone calls to women in Great Britain from 1982 through 1992.
The data came from the 1982 British Crime Survey (BCS), the 1989 Channel 4 Dispatches survey, the Bristol and Hull Safer Cities Survey, and the 1992 British Crime Survey (BCS). Findings revealed that threatening telephone calls are rated as seriously as residential burglary and that obscene calls are rated as seriously as purse snatching and more seriously than auto theft or social security fraud. All four surveys indicate that 7-10 percent of women receive 1 or more obscene calls in the course of a year. The level of obscene calls has declined only slightly during the study period. The 1992 BCS reveals that including other types of nuisance calls (threatening, offensive, or heavy breathing) approximately doubles the prevalence of victimization. A minority of victims receive the majority of calls. At least four-fifths of the calls were received at home, usually in the afternoon or evening. The most highly victimized group consists of single, separated, and divorced young women. Much indirect data indicate that most calls are not made randomly. Victims rarely informed police about nuisance calls. The chronic nature of victimization and the likelihood that most offenders know their victims indicate the potential for technological advances such as caller identification to help prevent and control this problem. Appended instrument, list of other Home Office publications, and 21 references