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When Do People Report Crime to the Police? Results From a Factorial Survey Design in the Netherlands, 2010

NCJ Number
Journal of Experimental Criminology Volume: 8 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2012 Pages: 117-134
Jochem Tolsma; Joris Blaauw; Manfred te Grotenhuis
Date Published
June 2012
18 pages
The authors of this study assessed to what extent factors of the reporting process affected the willingness to report crime to the police.
In this paper the authors assess to what extent factors of the reporting process affect the willingness to report crime to the police. The focus is on the following factors: (1) duration and flexibility (i.e. possibility to report outside office hours), (2) method of reporting (i.e. phone, Internet or police station), (3) anonymous reporting, and (4) encouragement by police officers. The authors constructed 220 standardized fictive victimization scenarios, which varied systematically in duration and flexibility, reporting method, anonymous reporting and encouragement by the police. A representative sample of the Dutch population (703 respondents in total) indicated for 8 randomly allocated scenarios whether or not they would report the incidents to the police when victimized. The willingness to report is highest when all modes of reporting are available and total time spent in the reporting process is limited. This holds true especially for less severe crimes. Reporting intention is higher when police officers encourage victims to report. The police force is able to influence aspects of the reporting process and thereby to increase reporting rates. Optimizing aspects of the reporting process such as the duration and methods of reporting, which are under direct control of the police, is likely to especially increase the number of crime reports for relatively less severe crimes. Given that encouragement by the police proved to have a substantial impact, campaigns that stress the importance of reporting specific crimes are likely to become successful. Abstract published by arrangement with Springer.