U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Reporting to the Police in Western Nations: A Theoretical Analysis of the Effects of Social Context

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 21 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2004 Pages: 933-969
Heike Goudriaan; James P. Lynch; Paul Nieuwbeerta
Date Published
December 2004
37 pages
This cross-national comparison examined the effect of social context on the reporting of criminal events to police in 16 Western industrialized nations.
While previous research has studied the effects of offense and victim characteristics on the decision to report victimization to the police, scant research attention has explored the effects of the social context of the criminal event on reporting behavior. The current analysis answers this gap in the literature by examining the influence of social context on crime reporting to the police. Nation-level data were drawn from the International Crime Victims Survey (ICVS), a large-scale survey that questioned respondents about their experiences with crime and their reporting behavior. Other social context variables included in the analytical model were the perceived competence of the police, the institutionalization of the insurance business, the norm of conformity, and the level of individualism; information on these variables was collected from various sources and merged with the ICVS data. Results of multilevel logistic analyses indicated that the decision to report crime to the police was not exclusively influenced by the social context in which the crime occurred; nation-level variables included in the models accounted for a significant proportion of the cross-national variation in crime reporting behavior. One of the most important factors influencing reporting behavior was perceived competence of the police. Thus, national social context appears to be an important component affecting crime reporting to the police. Further analysis is required to understand the effect of national social context on the reporting of property and personal contact crimes. Tables, references, appendixes