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Crime Reporting Behavior: Do Attitudes Toward the Police Matter?

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Police researchers have long argued that favorable evaluations of the police eventually lead to citizens’ willingness to cooperate with the police. However, this assumption has barely been studied empirically. The current study examines the association between attitudes toward the police and crime reporting behavior of victims. Furthermore, the study explores the influence of victims’ characteristics on their decisions to report crime to the police. Using field data originally collected in Ghana, the study found that victims’ levels of confidence in the police and satisfaction with police work positively predict their decisions to report sexual assault and robbery to the police. Moreover, findings revealed that age, marital status, and employment status are important predictors of victims’ reporting behavior. Several practical and theoretical implications of the results are discussed.
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Journal of Interpersonal Violence
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DOI: 10.1177/0886260516632356
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Article
Crime Reporting
Behavior: Do Attitudes
Toward the Police
Matter?
Francis D. Boateng, PhD1
Abstract
Police researchers have long argued that favorable evaluations of the
police eventually lead to citizens’ willingness to cooperate with the police.
However, this assumption has barely been studied empirically. The current
study examines the association between attitudes toward the police and
crime reporting behavior of victims. Furthermore, the study explores the
influence of victims’ characteristics on their decisions to report crime to the
police. Using field data originally collected in Ghana, the study found that
victims’ levels of confidence in the police and satisfaction with police work
positively predict their decisions to report sexual assault and robbery to the
police. Moreover, findings revealed that age, marital status, and employment
status are important predictors of victims’ reporting behavior. Several
practical and theoretical implications of the results are discussed.
Keywords
crime reporting, confidence, satisfaction, attitudes, legitimacy
Introduction
The primary objective of the present study is to examine the influence of vic-
tims’ attitudes toward the police on their decision to report or not to report
1University of Minnesota Crookston, USA
Corresponding Author:
Francis D. Boateng, Liberal Arts and Education Department, University of Minnesota
Crookston, 2900 University Avenue, Crookston, MN 56716, USA.
Email: fboateng@umn.edu
632356JIVXXX10.1177/0886260516632356Journal of Interpersonal ViolenceBoateng
research-article2016
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2 Journal of Interpersonal Violence
crime to the police. In addition, the study explores the effects of several other
factors that affect victims’ reporting decisions. The importance of reporting
crimes to criminal justice officials, especially, to the police, cannot be under-
estimated. Researchers have noted that crime reporting affects the type of
crime and the amount of crime known to the police (Slocum, Taylor, Brick, &
Esbensen, 2010). Therefore, non-reporting biases official estimates of crime
trends across time and space (Baumer & Lauritsen, 2010), and according to
Skogan (1976), these biased estimates have implications for the distribution of
resources in the community. It is argued that unreported offenders who still
live in the community may continue to commit crimes and victimize innocent
people (Skogan, 1984). However, the ultimate price paid for not reporting
crime to the police rests on the individual victims. Victims who refuse to
notify the police about their victimization experiences deny themselves the
benefits of receiving psychological and medical treatments, which are neces-
sary in coping and managing associated trauma (Van der Vijver, 1993).
Although several studies have been conducted to extend our knowledge
on the etiologies of crime reporting (Acierno et al., 2001; Baumer, 2002;
Boateng, 2015; Boateng & Lee, 2014; Burcar, 2013; Goff, Epstein, & Reddy,
2013; Goudriaan, Lynch, & Nieuwbeerta, 2004; Heath, Lynch, Fritch, &
Wong, 2013; Slocum et al., 2010; Tarling & Morris, 2010; Warner, 1992;
Wong & Van de Schoot, 2012) and citizens’ perceptions of their local police
(Boateng, 2012; Kaariainen & Siren, 2011; Rosenbaum, Schuck, Costello,
Hawkins, & Ring, 2005; Sunshine & Tyler, 2003; Tyler, 2005), limited
research efforts have been directed toward examining the relationship
between the two variables (Goudriaan, Nieuwbeerta, & Wittebrood, 2005;
Goudriaan, Wittebrood, & Nieuwbeerta, 2006; Watkins, 2005). These limited
studies have generally observed that victims’ opinions about the police may
affect their odds of reporting crime to the institution.
The present study supplements the efforts of prior studies by further exam-
ining the relationship between citizens’ attitudes and reporting of specific
crime types to the police using representative data collected in Ghana, West
Africa. In addition to empirically unpacking the complex relationship
between attitudes and crime reporting, this research builds upon previous
studies in several ways. First, prior studies failed to recognize that citizens’
behavior toward crime reporting varies based on their victimization experi-
ences. As a result, these studies operationalized crime reporting as a single
variable, precluding an understanding of how attitudes affect reporting of
certain types of crimes. Second, the study incorporates several indicators of
crime reporting among victims. Third, as the data used were obtained from a
non-Western society, results from this study will help develop a better under-
standing of police–citizen relations in postcolonial and emerging societies.
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Boateng 3
To achieve the study’s stated objectives, it is argued, based on the rational
choice theory, that victims’ attitudes toward the police weigh heavily on their
decisions to make crimes known to the police.
Crime Reporting: A Rational Choice Perspective
This study is based on the argument that victims’ attitudes toward the police
are more important in predicting whether victims would report experiences
of victimization to the police or not. This argument reinforces the traditional
notion that victims’ decisions to report crime are contingent upon their assess-
ments of the cost and benefit associated with reporting (Bowles, Garcia, &
Garoupa, 2009). Scholars have long utilized this line of reasoning in explain-
ing crime reporting of individuals. The assumption derived from the rational
choice theory stipulates that the decision to report criminal incidents is a
complex process involving a consideration of both cost and benefits (Bowles
et al., 2009; Felson, Messner, Hoskin, & Deane, 2002; Gottfredson &
Gottfredson, 1988; Kaukinen, 2002; Skogan, 1984). According to the rational
choice theory, victims who find the benefit of reporting to be greater than the
associated cost will be willing to call the police (Bowles et al., 2009; Tarling
& Morris, 2010).
Conversely, victims who consider reporting crime to be more costly than
beneficial will be discouraged from making the event known to the police
(Kaukinen, 2002). According to Kaukinen (2002), crime victims decide to
contact the police based on their rational assessment of the event. For instance,
victims who believe that the incident was minor will never call the police.
The costs associated with reporting crime to the police can be enormous
and may include the possibility of retaliation from the offender, especially
when the incident is domestic violence–related; shame and embarrassment
(Boateng, 2015; Bowles et al., 2009); stigmatization of the victim; and a chal-
lenging trial process. There are several benefits victims may enjoy from
reporting a crime to the police. According to victimology experts, the benefits
may include receiving protection from authorities, receiving treatment from
appropriate agencies and departments, and preventing future victimization by
helping to get the offender arrested and punished. For example, in investigat-
ing women’s reasons for reporting sexual assault, Boateng and Lee (2014)
found that most Ghanaian women want the offenders to be caught and pun-
ished. It has long been argued that, though victims may weigh the benefit of
reporting against the cost, the importance they place on such assessment var-
ies based on personal and situational characteristics (Tarling & Morris, 2010).
The authors suggest that the cost–benefit analysis will be confounded by the
characteristics of the victim, offender, and offense. For example, studies have
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4 Journal of Interpersonal Violence
shown that victims who are familiar with the offenders will be reluctant to
report crime to the police irrespective of their assessment of the benefit
(Boateng, 2015; Feld, 2009). This explains the complex nature of the deci-
sion-making process of crime reporting.
As part of the cost and benefit analysis, consideration of crime reporting,
victims may also factor into the reporting decision-making their perceptions of
the police. This aspect of cost–benefit assessment of crime reporting has not
received much scholarly attention in neither the police nor the victimology lit-
erature. Despite this limitation, there is, however, higher degree of consistency
among prior researches. For example, Watkins (2005) noted that perceptions
and attitudes toward the police can affect the likelihood of crime reporting,
which suggests that individuals who have favorable attitudes of the police will
be more likely to report a crime to the police than those with less than favorable
attitudes. Other researchers have also concluded that confidence in the police
and perception of police effectiveness determine the probability that crime vic-
tims will report to the police (Anderson, 1999; Baumer, 2002; Goudriaan et al.,
2004; Rosenfeld, Jacobs, & Wright, 2003; Sherman, 1993; Slocum et al., 2010;
Solis, Portillos, & Brunson, 2009). Thus, victims who have more confidence in
the police and perceive them to be effective in fighting crime may have
increased propensity to report crimes they experience to the police without ref-
erence to the cost and benefit of making the report (Carr, Napolitano, &
Keating, 2007). Social scientists largely disagree on the effect of attitudes on
victims’ disclosure of events. For instance, Davis and Henderson (2003) argued
that contact with the police is more important than perceptions in explaining
whether victims will report or not. These authors did not find any relationship
between perception and reporting of crime to the police.
Crime victims need to be confident that the information they give to the
police will not be heard elsewhere and that such information will be handled
with the highest degree of secrecy. In addition, victims may want to be
assured that the police will treat their cases efficiently and fairly and that they
will not be further victimized by the system. Studies have shown that the
police attitude of blaming the victim instead of the offender hinders sexual
assault reporting by victims (Boateng, 2015). Burcar (2013) and other schol-
ars (Lindgren, 1996; Newburn & Merry, 1990; Shapland, 1986) postulated
that victims may initially have moderate attitudes about the police, but as the
proceedings progress, their attitudes worsen. This change in attitude by vic-
tims has been attributed to lack of information about the case as well as vic-
tims’ prior experience with the process (Burcar, 2005; Shapland, 1986).
Victims who hold favorable attitudes of the police will be more willing to
report a crime than those who hold less favorable attitudes. Based on this
assumption, the following hypothesis was tested.
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Boateng 5
Hypothesis 1: Crime victims’ decisions to report crime to the police will
positively be influenced by their assessments of the police. Specifically, it
is expected that reporting of sexual assault and robbery by victims will
depend on victims’ levels of confidence and satisfaction with police work,
and the extent to which they rate the police to be procedurally fair.
Although it is expected that attitudes toward the police will influence vic-
tims’ decision to report crime, the effects will be higher among sexual assault
victims than robbery victims. This is because sexual assault victims suffer
drastic psychological effects (Çelikel, Demirkiran, Özsoy, Zeren, & Arslan,
2015; Moscarello, 1990) than that experience by robbery victims. Labeling,
shame, self-blaming, stigmatization, and name-calling are all negative effects
associated with sexual assault victimization. The response to these effects is
complete isolation of victims from the community. To avoid or minimize the
occurrence of these effects, sexual assault victims may decide not to report
the incident at all. However, if they decide to report, victims may strongly
consider their views about the police. Robbery victims, however, do not
experience the ordeal sexual assault victims undergo. These victims mostly
suffer the loss of physical property and would prefer to report to the police
with the hope of recovering such property. In view of this, robbery victims,
unlike sexual assault victims, may not strongly consider their views about the
police before making the report.
Demographic Differences in Crime Reporting Behavior
Studies examining the determinants of crime reporting have found a significant
influence of victims’ demographic characteristics (Acierno et al., 2001; Clay-
Warner & Burt, 2005; Goudriaan et al., 2006; Hart & Rennison, 2003;
MacDonald, 2001; Zhang, Messner, & Liu, 2007). Regarding the effect of vic-
tims’ education, some researchers have noted that highly educated victims are
more likely to report incidents to the police than less educated victims (Clay-
Warner & Burt, 2005). In contrast, others have argued that victims who are less
educated are more likely to report crime to the police (Goudriaan et al., 2006;
Wolitzky-Taylor et al., 2011). Lizotte (1985) noted decades ago that because of
the fear of losing economic and social standing, highly educated women who
were sexually assaulted were often less willing to report their victimization to
the police. Adding to the complexity is the observation made by some studies
that education and crime reporting are unrelated (Boateng, 2015).
Previous studies have also found an age effect on victims’ attitudes
toward reporting crime to the police, although findings about age have been
inconsistent. For instance, Acierno et al. (2001) observed that older victims
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6 Journal of Interpersonal Violence
were less likely to report crime to the police. This finding supports the
results from a recent study utilizing a Ghanaian sample (Boateng, 2015),
which observed that older women who had been sexually assaulted were less
likely to report the incidents to the police. An explanation for this behavior
can be found in the conclusion made by Heath et al. (2013) that “women
who endorsed higher levels of rape myth acceptance were less likely to
report their rapes to police” (p. 1065). Rape myth acceptance (RMA) has
been found to be higher among older people than younger ones (Kalra,
Wood, Desmarais, Verberg, & Senn, 1998), and thus, older victims are more
likely to blame themselves for the crime. Conversely, other studies have
found that victims who are older are more likely to report crime to the police
than those who are younger (Baumer, 2002; Felson et al., 2002; Finkelhor &
Ormrod, 2001; Watkins, 2005). These authors believe that the majority of
the crimes experienced by younger victims will never be brought to the
attention of the police.
Furthermore, prior research on crime reporting intentions has found sig-
nificant gender effects. Goudriaan et al. (2006) observed that female crime
victims are more likely to report to the police than their male counterparts. A
similar finding came from a later study conducted by Slocum et al. (2010),
who examined youths’ crime reporting intentions and argued that female stu-
dents were more willing to report crimes than male students. Moreover, vic-
tims’ socioeconomic characteristics such as employment status and income
levels have been equally influential in explaining their decisions to contact
the police. For instance, Goudriaan et al. (2006) found that victims who were
gainfully employed (those who worked more than 15 hr a week) were less
likely to report crime compared with other types of victims.
Given the conflicting results of prior research, the present study aims to
explore the influence of victims’ characteristics on their decision to contact
the police. Precisely, the study hypothesizes the following:
Hypothesis 2: Gender will have significant impact on victims’ decisions
to disclose criminal incidents to the police. The expectation is that female
victims will have higher rate of reporting crimes than male victims.
Hypothesis 3: Age will determine whether a victim will report victimiza-
tion to the police or not. Older victims will be more likely to report crimes
to the police than younger victims.
Hypothesis 4: Highly educated victims will be less likely to report crimes
such as sexual assault and robbery to the police than less educated
victims.
Hypothesis 5: A victim’s employment status will determine whether he or
she will report victimization to the police or not. It is expected that victims
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Boateng 7
who were employed at the time of the victimization will be less likely to
report crimes to the police than unemployed victims.
Hypothesis 6: Low-income victims will be more likely to report sexual
assault and robbery to the police than high-income victims.
Hypothesis 7: It is expected that victims who were not married at the time
of their victimization will be less likely to report crime to the police than
those who were married.
Crime Reporting: Formal Versus Informal Control Groups
Given the potency of informal control system in shaping victims’ reporting
behavior, the effects of three informal control group variables are accounted
for in the regression models. Although there has been limited attempt to
untangle the relationship between informal control groups and crime report-
ing, results have been consistent. Prior studies have shown that victims of
crime prefer to disclose their victimizations to groups such as romantic part-
ners, parents, other relatives, and friends, instead of reporting to formal sup-
port groups like the police (Bachman, 1998; Boateng, 2015; Golding, Siegel,
Sorenson, Burman, & Stein, 1989; Starzynski, Ullman, Filipas, & Townsend,
2005). Bachman (1998) concluded that crime victims choose to deal with the
incidents informally through their informal networks of relatives and friends.
Similarly, Golding et al. (1989) found that the majority of the victims they
studied preferred to disclose their experiences to informal support groups.
Consistent with this assertion is the finding obtained by Starzynski et al.
(2005) that about 98% of women disclosed their assault experiences to infor-
mal support sources instead of reporting to the Chicago police. In a recent
study, Boateng (2015) asked victims to rank six institutions that they would
prefer to report crimes to. Results obtained from a mean analysis revealed
that victims would consider reporting crimes to their families and friends
rather than to their local police. These findings suggest the high priority that
victims of crime give to informal network groups over the formal system of
control regarding crime reporting.
In as much as this behavior of victims could be problematic, there are
reasons for opting to report crimes to groups other than the police. The most
plausible explanation is that the victim is most likely to receive a favorable
reaction when disclosing victimization experiences to informal support
groups than when reporting to the police or other formal social groups.
Furthermore, victims’ desire to disclose victimization to groups other than
the formal agencies may also be due to officials’ attitudes toward investiga-
tion of the incident. Although this may be true in all social contexts, the influ-
ence may be more prevalent in the African context. Blaming the victim for
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8 Journal of Interpersonal Violence
the occurrence of the crime and showing uninterested attitudes in the victim’s
complaints are examples of behaviors that could possibly make victims turn
to their informal control system.
Contexts: Crime Trends and Reporting Behavior Among
Ghanaians
Criminal cases that came to the attention of the Ghana Police Service between
2000 and 2010 can be categorized as major offenses or commonly committed
crimes. Official police statistics indicate that reporting of major offenses,
which include robbery, murder, defilement,1 rape,2 and narcotic drugs (her-
oin, cocaine, and Indian hemp), have not only been low but have also shown
few variations across time. For instance, the total number of major offense
cases reported to Ghana Police Service (GPS) was 2,762 in the year 2000;
3,810 in 2001; 4,794 in 2002; and 4,492 in 2003 (see Appendix A for details).
Similarly, reporting of commonly committed offenses—attempted murder,
manslaughter, causing harm, assault, stealing, fraud, abortion, and abduction—
over the years have not shown much improvement and have not differed much
from one year to another. For example, 153,423 cases were reported in 2000;
171,636 cases were reported in 2001; and 167,993 were reported in 2002. This
trend is similar across the 11-year period (see Appendix B).
The low reporting rates for both the major and commonly committed
offenses in Ghana are perplexing, given the 30% increase in Ghana’s popula-
tion from 2000 to 2010, and the number of police officers that have been
employed over the years. Several thought-provoking questions require
answers: Is the low reporting due to previous maltreatment and mishandling
of victims by the police? Is it the result of a deliberate attempt by the police
to under record cases for political points? Alternatively, is it because
Ghanaians do not believe justice may be served? Answers to these questions
have not been forthcoming. However, there is a need to acknowledge the
limited efforts made by prior studies. Boateng and Lee (2014) explained why
women did not report sexual assault cases from a cultural perspective. The
authors believed most victims in Ghana prefer to report incidents to their
immediate family members for resolution. The family plays an important role
in the lives of its members. Therefore, members, who have a feeling of
belongingness, perceive the family unit as the first point of contact during
crisis. Due to the existence of higher degrees of interdependency and inter-
relatedness among people from the same family unit, shame and honor are
often considered as not just personal attributes but also familiar, in the sense
that they are shared with other members of the family. Therefore, family
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Boateng 9
members do everything humanly possible—including solving their own
crime problems—to prevent shame from befalling the family.
Method
Study Participants and Sampling Technique
The current study utilized a subsample of respondents drawn from data origi-
nally collected in the Greater Accra region of Ghana in 2011. The region was
chosen for the initial study because of its diverse population. Greater Accra’s
population comprises people from all parts of Ghana and is noted for high
ethnic heterogeneity. Being the largest city in Ghana, Accra has an estimated
population of about 2.2 million as of 2012.
Questionnaires were distributed to 500 respondents (18 years and above)
selected randomly from different households in five communities. Whereas
the communities were conveniently selected, the households were randomly
selected from the Census Enumeration Areas in Accra. In each household,
one participant was chosen based on whose birthday was the nearest to the
date of survey administration and was 18 years or older. Research assistants
were employed to assist in the administration and collection of question-
naires and were thoroughly trained in the modalities of conducting a survey
investigation and proper administration of questionnaires. The questionnaires
were designed to solicit information about citizens’ opinion of the Ghana
police, their experiences of victimization, and personal characteristics.
Questionnaires distributed were completed on location, except when respon-
dents specifically requested research assistants to return later for collection.
The collection method ensured that the right participant completed the ques-
tionnaire and, accordingly, resulted in a good response rate of 98.6% (493
filled and returned questionnaires out of the 500 distributed). To abide by
ethical standards of administering surveys, measures were adopted to ensure
confidentiality of the information obtained from the respondents. Personal
information that would otherwise link a respondent to a particular response
was omitted on the questionnaire. Moreover, respondents were advised not to
write their names or any identifiable information on the questionnaire.
Finally, inform consent was asked by letting respondents know that participa-
tion in the study was voluntary and failure to participate would cause no harm
to them. Of the 493 respondents, 281 (57%) had experienced prior victimiza-
tion and 212 (43%) had no prior record of victimization. The analysis of the
current study is focused on the 57% who had previously been victimized. See
Appendix C for a detail description of the 493 respondents from the original
survey.
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10 Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Measures
Crime reporting variables. There are three dependent variables in the present
study. Each of these variables required respondents to indicate whether they
reported their victimization to the police or not. The first was sexual assault
reporting, measured as a dichotomous variable, where 0 = no and 1 = yes;
second was robbery crime reporting (0 = no and 1 = yes); and third was gen-
eral crime reporting (0 = no and 1 = yes).
Attitudinal variables
Confidence in the police. Citizens’ confidence in the police was measured
using two items. The first item was “to what degree do you believe the police
to operate in the best interest of the public?” Responses ranged from not at all
to to a great extent. The second item was “to what extent do you have confi-
dence in the Ghana police to ensure adequate public safety?” Response cat-
egories ranged from very low confidence to very high confidence. Responses
obtained were combined to form an additive scale, with an alpha value of .80,
suggesting a high internal consistency of the scale.
Satisfaction with police work. Satisfaction was measured with a single five-
item Likert-type scale used to gauge their satisfaction levels, and the response
categories ranged from very dissatisfied to very satisfied.
Procedural fairness. Procedural fairness was also measured with a single
five-item Likert-type scale asking respondents such question as “How often
do the police give honest explanation for their actions to people they encoun-
ter on the street?” Response categories were 1 = never, 2 = seldom, 3 = about
half the time, 4 = usually, and 5 = always.
Demographic variables. The effects of several demographic variables were
examined in the current analysis. Gender was measured as 0 = male and
1 = female; victim’s age was measured as a dummy variable (1 = 18-29 years,
2 = 30-39 years, 3 = 40-49 years, and 4 = 50 years and above), with 18
to 29 years as a reference category. Victim’s education was measured as a
dichotomous variable where 0 = senior high school (SHS) or less and 1 =
post-SHS. Victims’ employment status was assessed as 0 = unemployed or
1 = employed. Victims’ marital status, which was included as a control vari-
able, was measured as 0 = married and 1 = not married. Victims’ income levels
were also controlled (0 = GHC10,000 or less and 1 = more than GHC10,000).
Informal support group variables. The effects of three informal support group
variables were controlled in the regression models. These variables assessed
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Boateng 11
victims’ willingness to report crime to community elders, church leaders, and
relatives. Each of these items had the same lead-in question asking victims to
indicate the extent to which they felt comfortable reporting crime to (a) com-
munity elders, (b) church leaders, and (c) relatives. A five-item Likert-type
scale was used ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
Fear of repeat victimization. Victims’ fear of repeat victimization was
assessed with a single item, asking respondents the following question:
“Does the fear that you will be re-victimized worry you a lot these days or
not?” Respondents were requested to choose 1 = worries all the time, 2 =
worries me some of the time, 3 = neutral, 4 = does not worry me some of the
time, or 5 = does not worry me at all. It was assumed that victims who were
least fearful of re-victimization would hesitate to report a crime to the police.
The descriptive statistics of the study respondents are presented in Table 1.
Results
To explore the effects of the predicted variables on victims’ crime reporting
behavior, series of multivariate binary logistic regression models were con-
ducted, as presented in Table 2. The first model examines the effects on vic-
tims’ decisions to report crime in general to the police, whereas the second and
third models discuss the factors influencing victims’ decisions to report sexual
assaults and robberies, respectively. In all these models, the effects of the inde-
pendent variables (satisfaction, confidence, fairness, female, age, education,
employed, marital status, and income) and the control variables (fear of re-
victimization and willingness to report crime to community elders and church
members) were examined. However, victims’ willingness to report crime to
their relatives was examined in the general crime and robbery models.
Effects on Reporting Crime in General
The general crime model was significant (χ2 = 24.97, p < .05) and explained
15% of the variance in crime reporting. The results indicate that after control-
ling for the effects of other predictors in the model, satisfaction with police
work (Wald = 3.49, p < .05) and confidence in the police (Wald = 1.62, p <
.05) had significant influence on victims’ decisions to disclose incidents to
the police. Victims who expressed being satisfied with police work were 1.37
times more likely to report crime to the police (OR = 1.37) compared with
those not satisfied with police work. Similarly, crime victims who expressed
greater confidence in the police had greater odds of reporting crime to the
police compared with those with lower confidence in the police (OR = 1.09).
These observations offer support for the first hypothesis that crime victims’
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12 Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Table 1. Descriptive Statistics of Crime Victims.
General Crime Sexual Assault Robbery
M (SD)/% M (SD)/% M (SD)/%
Percent victimized 100 25.4 74.6
Reported to the police 71.8 67.6 73.3
Female 46.8 50.0 45.7
Age—30 years and above 65.1 57.1 67.3
Not married 59.6 65.2 57.7
Education—Post-senior high school 47.5 45.7 48.6
Employed 75.5 42.9 26.9
Income GHC10,000 29.0 42.6 26.9
Confidence composite scale 5.46 (2.20) 5.75 (2.32) 5.39 (2.17)
Satisfaction with police work
Very dissatisfied 16.1 19.7 14.8
Dissatisfied 35.7 45.1 31.6
Neutral 16.4 11.3 18.2
Satisfied 27.5 18.3 31.6
Very satisfied 4.3 5.6 3.8
Procedural fairness (Explanationa)
Never 25.0 32.4 22.0
Seldom 27.1 23.9 27.8
About half the time 27.5 26.8 28.2
Usually 16.1 12.7 17.2
Always 4.3 4.2 4.8
Comfortable reporting crime to community elders
Strongly disagree 10.0 8.8 10.8
Disagree 25.8 22.1 27.1
Neutral 26.1 27.9 26.1
Agree 28.8 29.4 28.1
Strongly agree 9.2 11.8 7.9
Comfortable reporting crime to church members
Strongly disagree 5.9 7.2 6.4
Disagree 15.9 11.6 17.3
Neutral 20.9 21.7 20.3
Agree 46.5 47.8 45.5
Strongly agree 11.1 11.6 10.4
Comfortable reporting crime to relatives
Strongly disagree 4.4 2.9 4.9
Disagree 4.4 2.9 4.9
Neutral 4.4 5.9 4.4
Agree 36.5 47.1 33.0
Strongly agree 50.2 41.2 52.7
Fear of re-victimization
Worries me all the time 22.8 28.2 21.0
Worries me some of the time 44.8 46.5 43.8
Neutral 12.5 7.0 14.3
Does not worry me some of the time 12.1 7.0 13.8
Does not worry me at all 7.8 11.3 7.1
aIndicates the extent to which the police explain their action during encounters.
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13
Table 2. Logistic Regression Coefficients Predicting Reporting of Crime in General, Sexual Assault, and Robbery to the Police.
Reporting of
General Crime
Reporting of
Sexual Assault
Reporting of
Robbery
Logit (SE) Wald OR Logit (SE) Wald OR Logit (SE) Wald OR
Constant 1.25 (1.19) 1.09 3.48 9.70 (6.75) 2.07* 1.64 0.66 (1.42) 0.22 1.93
Satisfaction 0.32 (0.17) 3.49* 1.37 4.48 (1.88) 5.68* 8.88 0.16 (0.20) 0.61* 1.17
Confidence 0.25 (0.10) 1.62* 1.09 0.56 (0.49) 1.30 1.75 0.17 (0.12) 2.02** 1.19
Fairness 0.21 (0.17) 1.49 1.23 1.80 (0.94) 3.65* 1.07 0.35 (0.22) 2.58 1.41
Female −0.05 (0.32) 0.03 0.95 2.74 (1.97) 1.95 15.50 −0.03 (0.39) 0.01 0.97
Age—30 years and above 0.04 (0.39) 0.01 1.04 −2.17 (1.45) 2.24 0.11 0.87 (0.47) 3.38* 2.39
Not married −0.70 (0.40) 3.06* 0.50 −9.95 (5.08) 3.83* 0.12 −0.65 (0.46) 1.98 0.52
Education—Post-senior high
school
−0.07 (0.33) 0.04 0.94 4.24 (2.32) 3.35* 6.96 −0.26 (0.41) 0.40 0.77
Employed −0.41 (0.41) 0.99 0.67 −3.02 (2.50) 1.47 0.05 −1.14 (0.56) 4.09* 0.32
Income GHC10,000 0.03 (0.38) 0.01 1.03 2.12 (1.64) 1.68 8.36 −0.7 (0.49) 0.02 0.93
Comfortable reporting crime to
Community elders −0.03 (0.15) 0.05 0.97 1.15 (0.74) 2.40* 3.14 −0.14 (0.19) 0.57 0.87
Church members 0.32 (0.17) 3.41* 1.37 −2.01 (1.02) 3.86* 0.13 0.62 (0.22) 7.73** 1.86
Relativesa−0.46 (0.19) 5.76* 0.63 −0.55 (0.24) 5.28* 0.58
Fear of re-victimization −0.12 (0.16) 0.54 0.89 2.72 (1.37) 3.96* 1.87 −0.05 (0.20) 0.07 0.95
Model fit
Nagelkerke R2.149 .44 .23
−2 log likelihood 250.97 24.01 172.86
Model chi-squared (χ2) 24.07* 17.59** 29.53**
df 13 12 13
Note. OR = odds ratio.
aWas not included in the sexual assault model, and by excluding it, improved the model significantly.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
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14 Journal of Interpersonal Violence
decisions to report crime to the police will positively be influenced by their
assessments of the police.
Perceived police fairness was not found to be significant, indicating that
decision to report crime to the police does not depend on victims’ assessment
of police fairness. One demographic variable was found to predict victims’
reporting behavior, marital status—not married was significant (Wald = 3.06,
p < .05) and with an odds ratio of 0.50; victims who were not married had 50%
decreased odds of reporting crime to the police compared with married vic-
tims. The remaining demographic variables—gender, age, education, employ-
ment, and income—were not statistically found to predict victims’ reporting
behavior, failing to achieve supports for the study’s other hypotheses.
Furthermore, two informal support group variables—reporting to church
members (Wald = 3.41, p < .05) and reporting to relatives (Wald = 5.76, p <
.05)—were also found to predict reporting crime to the police. Victims who
expressed feeling comfortable reporting crime to their church members were
1.37 times more likely to report crime to the police. However, those who
expressed feeling comfortable reporting crime to their relatives were 37%
less likely to disclose crime to the police.
Effects on Reporting Sexual Assault
Columns 4 to 6 of Table 2 present the results regarding the effects on sexual
assault victims’ decisions to report incidents to the police. The model was sig-
nificant (χ2 = 17.59, p < .01) and explained 44% of the variance in sexual assault
reporting. Victims’ assessments of police fairness (Wald = 3.65, p < .05) had a
significant impact on their decision to report sexual assault incidents to the
police. With an odds ratio of 1.07, sexual assault victims who considered the
police to be fair had 1.07 times the odds of reporting sexual assault to the police
compared with those who perceived the police to be unfair (OR = 1.07).
Similarly, not married was significant (Wald = 3.83, p < .05) and with an odds
ratio of 0.12, victims who were not married had 85% decreased odds of report-
ing sexual assault to the police. Moreover, education—post-SHS—positively
and significantly influenced victims’ reporting decision (Wald = 3.35, p < .05).
Victims who had attained more than SHS education were 3.35 times likely to
report sexual assault to the police. Feeling comfortable reporting sexual assault
to community elders (Wald = 2.40, p < .05) and fear of re-victimization
(Wald = 3.96) both had significant positive effects on victims’ behavior.
However, feeling comfortable reporting sexual assault to church members
(Wald = 3.86, p < .05) negatively influenced victims’ decision to report sexual
assault to the police. With an odd ratio of 0.13, victims who felt comfortable to
report the incident to church members were 87% less likely to report the crime
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Boateng 15
to the police. Confidence in the police, age, gender, employed, and income
failed to predict reporting of sexual assaults to the police.
Effects on Reporting Robbery
The robbery model was significant (χ2 = 29.53, p < .01) and explained 23%
of the variance in reporting robbery incidents. After controlling for the effects
of other predictors in the model, the results revealed that satisfaction with
police work (Wald = 0.61, p < .05) and confidence in the police (Wald = 2.02,
p < .01) had significant impact on victims’ decisions to report robbery inci-
dents to the police. With an odds ratio of 1.17, victims who expressed greater
satisfaction with police work had 1.17 times the odds of reporting crime to
the police compared with those not satisfied with police work. Likewise, rob-
bery victims who expressed greater confidence in the police had greater odds
of reporting crime to the police compared with those who had lower confi-
dence in the police (OR = 1.19). These findings are in accordance with the
study’s expectation that victims’ attitude toward the police will influence
their decisions to report crime. Perception of fairness was not significant,
suggesting a lack of effect on reporting of robbery.
Moreover, age was a significant factor influencing robbery reporting (Wald
= 3.38, p < .05). Older victims (30 years and above) had 2.38 times the odds
of reporting robbery attacks to the police compared with victims below the age
of 30 years old, a finding that supports the assumption in Hypothesis 2.
Employment status of victims was found to be a significant predictor orobbery
reporting (Wald = 4.09, p < .05). Victims who were employed had 68% lower
odds of reporting robbery to the police, achieving the study’s expectation that
employed victims compared with the unemployed will have lesser odds of
reporting robbery. Victims’ gender, income, marital status, and education were
not found to predict reporting of robbery to the police.
Discussion and Conclusion
The present study extends the findings of previous research by exploring the
influence of victims’ attitudes toward the police on their decisions to report
general crime, sexual assault, and robbery. In addition, the study examines the
influence of victims’ characteristics and their desire to report criminal incidents
to informal support groups on their decisions to disclose crime to the police.
The findings of the current study indicate that victims’ decisions to disclose
crime to the police are positively influenced by their attitudes toward the police.
This observation lends support to the study’s first hypothesis that crime vic-
tims’ decisions to report crime to the police will positively be influenced by
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16 Journal of Interpersonal Violence
their assessments of the police. Victims who are satisfied with the work of the
police in their neighborhoods and those who have high confidence in the police
are more likely to report sexual assault and robbery to the police. Similarly,
individuals who perceived the police to be fair and explained their actions to
the public were more inclined to report sexual assault to the police.
These observations offer support for the notion that favorable attitudes
result in citizens’ voluntary cooperation with the police. Police scholars have
long argued about the importance of trust and confidence in policing, asserting
that the two variables lead to effective policing because the police enjoy vol-
untary citizen cooperation and citizen compliance with the laws being enforced
(Hough & Roberts, 2004; Jackson & Bradford, 2010; Mazerolle, Antrobus,
Bennett, & Tyler, 2013; Murphy & Cherney, 2012; Rosenbaum et al., 2005;
Tyler, 1990, 2005; Stoutland, 2001; Sunshine & Tyler, 2003). The findings
further shed light on the argument that favorable perceptions influence police
effectiveness and enhance police legitimacy. Public trust, for instance, legiti-
mizes police actions (Goldsmith, 2005; Hough, 2012; Hough, Jackson,
Bradford, & Myhill, 2010; Sunshine & Tyler, 2003), and a legitimate police
force faces minimal to no challenge to its authority (Tankebe, 2013).
From a victimological perspective, a plausible explanation for the observed
effects could be that victims would want to be assured that the police would
treat them fairly, handle their reports effectively, and protect their confidential
information from getting to the public domain. This assurance could only be
ascertained through their assessments of the police. In a study examining why
sexual assault victims were not satisfied with the reporting process, Boateng
(2015) observed that most victims were not satisfied with the reporting process
because the police did not treat them well and did little about their complaints.
Before deciding to report cases to the police, victims of all crimes would want
to be confident that the police would handle the case effectively.
Another pattern of results observed was the effects of victims’ characteris-
tics on their reporting behavior. Consistent with prior research (Baumer,
2002; Watkins, 2005), an increase in age increases a person’s propensity to
report crime to the police, especially robbery incidents. Compared with
younger persons, older individuals were more likely to report robbery inci-
dents to the police. Two reasons may account for why reporting of robbery is
higher among this segment of the population. First, older people may be
heavily affected by the commission of the crime than the younger ones due to
massive accumulation of wealth. Stated differently, older individuals unlike
the younger people are more likely to have their valuables stolen during rob-
bery and, as a result, more likely to report to the police with the intention of
recovering their stolen properties. Second, older people who are mostly con-
sidered vulnerable in the society will not hesitate to get their victimizers
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Boateng 17
arrested and punished. This will give them some closure and subsequently
reduce their rate of fearfulness of future attacks. Regarding the relationship
between employment status and reporting of robbery, it can be mentioned
that victims who were employed at the time of the incidents were less likely
to report robbery victimization to the police because of the lengthy criminal
justice processes they will undergo, which might have undue effect on their
productivity at work. To avoid going through several months of trial process,
such victims may decide against reporting crime to the police. This is particu-
larly true in non-Western societies where victims’ rights—the right against
employer humiliation—are not well recognized.
An interesting observation was the influence of victims’ desire to report
crime to informal support groups—friends, family members, church mem-
bers, and community elders. The results demonstrate that sexual assault vic-
tims who felt comfortable reporting incidents to their church members were
less likely to report the incidents to the police, whereas those who felt com-
fortable reporting to community elders were more likely to report to the
police. This pattern is perhaps due to the differing feedback that victims
might get from these groups: Church members, because of their strong faith
in God, might advise victims to give their problems to God and pray for for-
giveness of sin for the offender. Christians believe that God is the ultimate
punisher of sins, and that, God will punish their victimizers. This kind of
preaching may convince a victim from not going to the police. Conversely,
community elders, because of their status in the community, may advise vic-
tims to report their victimizations to the police. These elders may develop a
working relationship with the police to stop crime happening in their jurisdic-
tions. Scholars have argued that the community is a co-producer of crime
solutions, suggesting that the community has a role to play in crime preven-
tion (Cordner, 2014; Kelling & Moore, 1989).
Understanding the mechanism through which attitudinal variables affect
victims’ intentions to report crime to the police has serious practical and theo-
retical implications. Practically, the finding that attitudes about the police influ-
ence crime reporting offers insight into the kind of strategies to adopt to enhance
victims’ willingness to report crime to the police. Attitudes and behaviors of the
police that undermine reporting should be discouraged. Police officers must
respect victims’ confidentiality and avoid leaking classified information about
victims to people who are not supposed to have access. Adhering to the rules of
confidentiality and respecting the rights of victims might increase confidence
in the police, especially among crime victims. Keeping victims’ secret informa-
tion secure will also make them more confident that the police can protect them
against retaliation. In addition, programs that are aimed at developing favor-
able public attitudes about the police are encouraged. Officers must enhance
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18 Journal of Interpersonal Violence
their performance in the neighborhoods and go the extra mile to satisfy the
communities they serve. The theoretical implications of the study’s findings are
that it offers empirical evidence about the relationship between perceptions and
crime reporting, and supports the general argument that favorable attitudes
toward the police lead to citizens’ voluntary cooperation with law enforcement
and compliance with criminal law.
Like many studies using secondary data, this study utilized a subsample of
respondents selected from an original dataset that did not use a nationally
representative sample. The original dataset contains information about indi-
viduals sampled from one geographical area of Ghana, limiting the present
study’s ability to generalize its findings to a larger population. Furthermore,
the study did not observe any effect for procedural fairness, suggesting that
fairness during encounters does not predict reporting by victims. The lack of
effect is problematic, given the importance of procedural fairness in shaping
attitudes. As the lack of effect may be due to how the variable was mea-
sured—using a single item—further research is needed to incorporate several
items into the measurement of procedural fairness. In addition, it is suggested
that further research should study the link between attitudes and crime report-
ing by focusing on conducting advance analysis to determine whether aggre-
gate attitudes of the community will predict reporting. This will further the
discussion beyond the individual-level attitudes.
Despite these limitations, the present study has been able to address a major
issue in the attitudinal and crime reporting literature. Based on the current
analysis, we can safely argue with justification that citizens’ assessments of
their local police can explain whether victims of crime will report incidents to
the police or not. Confidence and satisfaction with police work have predic-
tive effects on victims’ decisions to call formal agents of control. Specifically,
victims who demonstrate higher confidence in the police as well as those who
are satisfied with police performance in their neighborhoods tend to report
crime more than their counterparts who are less confident and unsatisfied with
the work of the police. Satisfaction with police work may signal to victims that
the police are effective and can handle their case more effectively. Aside from
these findings, the study has also shown that victims’ attitudes about reporting
crime to their friends, relatives, church members, and community elders influ-
ence their attitudes about reporting crime to the police. For instance, those
who prefer to confide in their church members about their sexual assault vic-
timizations mostly do not report crime to the police, whereas those who go to
community elders also go to the police. In short, the findings of the present
study extend our knowledge on crime reporting by exploring the effects of
variables that have barely been examined by previous studies, hence making a
significant contribution to the police literature.
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19
Major Offenses Reported to the Police Between 2000 and 2010.
Offense
Year
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Robbery 397 795 950 690 728 1,399 1,949 1,413 1,449 1,373 1,260
Murder 387 433 401 436 452 393 412 399 430 427 422
Defilement 596 1,061 1,620 2,001 1,884 1,779 2,442 3,152 1,675 1,604 1,729
Rape 1,027 1,012 1,210 952 631 533 724 956 485 447 447
Drugsa355 509 613 413 458 464 541 679 714 679 473
Total 2,762 3,810 4,794 4,492 4,153 4,568 6,068 6,599 4,753 4,530 4,331
Source. Statistics & Information Technology Unit (SITU), Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, Accra.
aThis includes heroine, cocaine, and Indian hemp.
Appendix A
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20
Commonly Committed Offenses Reported to the Police between 2000 and 2010.
Offense
Year
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Attempted murder 36 43 55 58 69 90 58 47 33 64 59
Manslaughter 17 19 8 20 104 4 5 4 6 11 10
Causing harm 2,500 2,673 2,838 3,020 3,002 3,216 4,021 3,407 3,596 3,368 3,527
Assault 85,738 91,093 90,179 90,551 90,560 81,313 86,075 94,558 88,332 89,407 84,562
Stealing 53,467 63,741 60,310 57,377 57,160 55,001 57,644 64,501 63,636 61,711 59,627
Fraud 10,936 13,093 13,701 14,657 14,049 12,561 14,263 15,542 16,513 18,906 18,384
Abortion 169 168 177 189 253 246 303 390 249 236 255
Abduction 560 806 725 751 823 787 1,131 1,205 653 682 600
Total 153,423 171,636 167,993 166,623 166,020 153,218 163,500 179,654 173,018 174,385 167,024
Source. Statistics & Information Technology Unit (SITU), Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, Accra.
Appendix B
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Boateng 21
Distributive Statistics of the 493 Total Respondents.
Variables M (SD)/%
Percent victimized 57
Reported to the police 73.1
Female 47.1
Age—30 years and above 63.8
Not married 59.9
Education—Post-senior high school 41.6
Employed 76.5
Income GHC10,000 35.1
Confidence composite scale 5.46 (2.27)
Satisfaction with police work
Very dissatisfied 14.6
Dissatisfied 34.6
Neutral 16.7
Satisfied 30.7
Very satisfied 3.4
Procedural fairness (Explanationa)
Never 29.5
Seldom 26.6
About half the time 24.4
Usually 14.6
Always 4.9
Comfortable reporting crime to community elders
Strongly disagree 11.1
Disagree 22.3
Neutral 27.2
Agree 31.0
Strongly agree 8.4
Comfortable reporting crime to church members
Strongly disagree 7.9
Disagree 15.2
Neutral 18.8
Agree 48.0
Strongly agree 10.1
Comfortable reporting crime to relatives
Strongly disagree 5.1
Disagree 7.2
Neutral 6.2
Agree 41.0
Strongly agree 40.6
Fear of re-victimization
Worries me all the time 22.0
Worries me some of the time 42.5
Neutral 10.4
Does not worry me some of the time 14.0
Does not worry me at all 11.2
aIndicates the extent to which the police explain their actions during encounters.
Appendix C
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22 Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publi-
cation of this article.
Notes
1. According to Section 101 of the Ghana Criminal Code, 1960 (Act 29), defile-
ment is the natural or unnatural carnal knowledge of any child below 16 years of
age.
2. Section 98 of the Criminal Code defines rape as the carnal knowledge of a female
of 16 years or above without her consent. This definition of rape excludes rape
against a man, making it limited in scope.
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Author Biography
Francis D. Boateng is an assistant professor in the Liberal Arts and Education
Department at the University of Minnesota Crookston. He received his PhD in
criminal justice and criminology from Washington State University. His main
research interests include comparative criminal justice, comparative policing,
police legitimacy, international security, sexual assault, quantitative research,
crime, law, and justice. His most recent publications have appeared or are
forthcoming in International Criminal Justice Review; Journal of the Institute of
Justice and International Studies; Victims & Offenders: An International Journal
of Evidence-Based Research, Policy, and Practice; International Review of
Victimology; and Police Practice and Research: An International Journal.
by guest on February 25, 2016jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... For example, studying young women's perceptions of police and procedural justice has implications for policies to improve victim reporting, police officers' interactions with community members, and the clearance rate for sexual assault crimes. Although previous research has separately examined sexual assault reporting (Brubaker et al., 2017;Fisher et al., 2010;James & Lee, 2015;Moore & Baker, 2018) and the impact of trust and procedural justice on cooperation with the police (Boateng, 2018;Donner et al., 2015;Murphy, 2017;Sharp & Johnson, 2009;Slocum, 2018;Tyler, 2004Tyler, , 2011Tyler & Blader, 2003;Tyler & Fagan, 2008;Tyler & Huo, 2002), little is known about the link between these concepts. Even less is known regarding how victims' reporting behavior may change depending on the sex of the officer to whom they are reporting their victimization. ...
... Police cannot protect the public from crime if police are not made aware of criminal events within the communities they serve (Tyler, 2011). Distrust and poor perceptions of the police contribute to unreported and underreported crime (Boateng, 2018;Nix et al., 2015;Sharp & Johnson, 2009;Slocum, 2018;Tyler, 2004Tyler, , 2011Tyler & Fagan, 2008;Tyler & Huo, 2002). In other words, trust is essential to the legitimacy of police (Sharp & Johnson, 2009). ...
... The current study builds upon prior research in several ways. Although some research shows that increased police trust increases sexual assault reporting (Boateng, 2018;James & Lee, 2015;Moore & Baker, 2018;Slocum, 2018), and receiving procedurally unjust treatment lowers reporting likelihood (Elliott et al., 2014;Hickman & Simpson, 2003;Murphy & Barkworth, 2014), the current study is among the first to examine these complex relationships collectively. These findings are consistent with prior literature examining how global perspectives of the police, as well as encounter-specific interactions, have strong impacts on the assessment of police (Gau, 2014). ...
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Sexual assaults are underreported to the police, even though this crime affects one in four college women. Using a vignette design, this study fills a gap in the literature by examining the influence of prior police perceptions, procedurally unjust treatment, and the sex of the responding officer on college women's likelihood to report sexual assault. Results indicate positive prior police perceptions significantly increase students’ perceived likelihood to report sexual victimization. Even when controlling for prior perceptions, procedurally unfair treatment significantly decreases the likelihood of future victimization reporting. Responding officer sex does not affect students’ decision to report.
... 2020;Xie & Baumer 2019). Ef sömu þaettir tengjast vilja fólks hérlendis til að tilkynna og í öðrum löndum vanmeta opinber lögreglugögn á Íslandi algengi ofbeldis gegn ungu fólki, gegn fólki sem hefur stutta formlega menntun og gegn þeim sem búa utan höfuðborgarsvaeðisins (Baumer & Lauritsen 2010;Boateng 2018;Hullenaar & Ruback 2020;Slocum 2018), og að einhverju leyti ofbeldi gegn körlum (Ruback o.fl. 1999;Saxton o.fl. ...
... Rannsóknir hafa ítrekað sýnt að í öllum brotaflokkum er fólk í eldri aldurshópum líklegra til að tilkynna brot en þau sem yngri eru (Baumer & Lauritsen 2010;Guzy & Hirtenlehner 2015;Hullenaar & Ruback 2020). Jafnframt benda rannsóknir til að aukin menntun auki líkur á að þolendur hafi samband við lögreglu (Boateng 2018;Gutierrez & Kirk 2017;Powers o.fl. 2020). ...
... Umraeða um fjárskort og manneklu í lögreglunni getur jafnframt dregið úr trausti fólks á getu lögreglu til að bregðast við afbrotum, og því dregið úr tilkynningum án þess að tengjast viðhorfum um framkomu lögreglunnar þegar til hennar er leitað (Hardy 2019). Erlendar rannsóknir benda baeði til þess að traust til lögreglu auki líkur á tilkynningum (Boateng 2018;Goudriaan o.fl. 2004) Í þessari rannsókn kemur fram að fólk sem hefur orðið fyrir ofbeldi á síðastliðnum 12 mánuðum (áður en könnun var lögð fyrir) er marktaekt ólíklegra til að bera traust til lögreglu en þátttakendur sem ekki hafa slíka reynslu. ...
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As most crimes are never reported, official police data underestimates the true extent of crimes. Decisions to report also varies between groups resulting in a systematic bias in data used to form police changes in the criminal justice system. The current research focuses on the impact that crime types, victims SES, and trust towards the police has on decisions to report. The study uses a combined dataset of victimization surveys conducted annually from 2014 to 2021 (n = 19,440). Results show that fewer victims of gender-based violence report than victims of other types of crimes. Victims’ perception of the seriousness of the violence has the strongest impact on decision to report. Young people and people in rural areas are less likely to report than other groups. The article reviews the complex relationship between trust towards the police and decisions to report violence. The findings indicate that a recent experience of violent victimization reduces trust towards the police. Reporting gender-based violence has a tendency to reduce trust towards the police but reporting other types of physical violence is associated with increased trust. The results also show that victims of serious intimate partner violence have become more likely to report to the police in recent years than before 2018.
... In a similar vein, government officials and policy-makers have viewed the non-reporting of DV as a relatively minor social problem affecting only a limited number of individuals (World Health Organization (WHO), (2005). Consistent with the position of the Stalans and Finn (2006) and WHO (2005) is a commonly held view in local policing and international academic circles that it is a rational, conscious decision of victims of DV not to report their victimization (see Boateng, 2016;Bowles, Garcia, & Garoupa, 2009;Felson et al., 2002;Gottfredson & Gottfredson, 1988;Kaukinen, 2002) and further, that it is the victim's right to do so. ...
... The basic assumption derived from the Rational Choice Theory is that victims of DV often make a rational decision to report or not report their victimization to the police when 'incentives are high and costs are low' (Felson et al., 2002). According to the Rational Choice Theory, victims of crime who believe that there are greater benefits than costs of reporting their victimization will report the offending behaviour to the police (Boateng, 2016;Bowles et al., 2009;Felson et al., 2002), while those who believe that there are greater costs than benefits to reporting, tend not to report their victimization (Kaukinen, 2002). In other words, the decision to report or not report DV victimization is a rational decision based on victims' assessments of costs and benefits associated with reporting (Bowles, Garcia, & Garoupa, 2009). ...
... The rationales include lack of faith in the criminal justice system, lack of trust and confidence in the police, police inefficiency, fear of retaliation from the abuser, use of other alternatives, denial of criminal intent of the abuser, and trivial nature of the abuse, denial of serious injury, embarrassment and shame, protection of family, DV victimization being a private matter, nothing could be done and apathy. The aforementioned rationales for non-reporting of DV victimization to the police in Trinidad and Tobago are in congruence with previous findings on DV non-reporting by Boateng (2016) and Bowles et al. (2009) and are aligned with the Decision Theory, Rational Choice theory and Weiss' theoretical framework for understanding the non-reporting of DV victimization. ...
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Globally, domestic violence (DV) is a common and serious problem that incurs significant costs to victims, their families and governments. DV involves violence between intimate partners as well as against vulnerable members of society, such as children and older people. In order to resolve issues of DV victimization, the police rely on victims to report their victimization; however, there is an ongoing concern that incidents of DV between intimate partners tend to be unreported/underreported to the police in Trinidad and Tobago. The current exploratory effort draws on data from semi-structured interviews with individuals (N=130) in six diverse geographical locations in Trinidad and Tobago regarding their non-reporting of DV victimization to the police. The findings indicate that the main reason for DV victimization non-reporting by males on the island was fear of being viewed negatively by police officers and the public (32%), while for females the main reason was dependent economic status (21%)/protection of family (21%). For both males and females, the main barrier to reporting DV victimization to the police was embarrassment/shame. A key research finding was that males were nine times more likely than females to not report their DV victimization to the police.
... They often linked negative treatment by police to profiling based on appearance or ethnicity. Negative attitudes or fear of police prevent victims of crime from reporting to or seeking help from the police (Rypi et al. 2019;Boateng 2018). ...
... Many of the young migrants included in the study inhabit a liminal, precarious space not just because of their legal status, but due to their young age and the violent transition to young adulthood through state practices of re-aging (Kaukko and Wernesjö 2017;Kazemi 2021). Age can be a barrier to protection since young people are less likely to report a crime (Merenius and Sellgren Karlsson 2020;Rypi et al. 2019;Boateng 2018). Young men, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds, tend not to report experiences of criminalised violence to the police (Burcar 2013;Fohring 2014;BRÅ 2020, 16) and rarely seek victim support (Thunberg 2020). ...
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Children and young people seeking asylum on their own face violence in many forms. Little is known about how they seek protection from criminalised violence. This article is based on ethnographic research, interviews and a survey of young migrants living precariously, mostly from Afghanistan, who fled to Sweden alone when they were children, but who did not have their protection needs recognised. Through lived experiences of not reporting criminalised violence to police, the article examines how protection is further denied in the context of recent changes to the Swedish migratory and welfare regime. This article finds that young migrants often perceive non-reporting as a zero-sum strategy of survival over safety. Insecure legal status prevents young migrants from engaging the law for protection from criminalised violence. Experiences of discriminatory and violent police treatment and institutional violence forming part of trajectories of displacement reinforce the lack of protection. Strategies of silence and solidarity are used to ensure the preservation of the self, the migratory project, to protect friends, and, occasionally, perpetrators. By examining young migrants’ experiences of non-protection from criminalised violence, intersecting structural forms of violence become visible. These failures of protection constitute part of a continuum of violence experienced by young people seeking asylum.
... Reducing crime is a collective effort involving the police and community members (Boateng, 2018a;Sampson et al., 1997). The police rely on area residents to notify them of suspicious behavior and criminal victimization. ...
Article
Process-based policing represents a strategy for building productive relationships between the police and residents. This study used data from in-depth qualitative interviews with Nigerian immigrants living in a large city to gauge the potential utility of this strategy. Although participants expected the police to behave in a manner consistent with an idealized image of the United States, police contacts were typically characterized as procedurally unfair, which negatively affected their social identity, their support for the police, and their willingness to comply and cooperate. Participants indicated that such treatment signaled to them that the police considered migrants an outgroup whose members represented a threat to public order and required higher levels of social control. Nevertheless, the evidence suggested that procedurally just tactics may prove effective over time, which could help immigrants identify with the police, support them, and report crimes.
... Most victims of crime, however, do not report their victimization to the police: Less than one in three victimizations (29%) is reported to the police in Canada, and only 6% of cases of sexual assault is reported (Cotter, 2021). One reason for victims' poor reporting is their lack of confidence in the justice system (Boateng, 2018). Lindsay (2014) conducted interviews with 128 victims of sexual assault in three Canadian provinces and found that 53% of sexual assault victims said they did not trust the police, and two-thirds said they did not trust the court process in general. ...
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Victimization, and in particular sexual violence, undermines victims’ confidence and self-esteem. Victims often feel guilty and blame themselves for what happened. Fearing negative reactions, victims of sexual violence are often reluctant to report the crime to police. When victims do report to the police, the criminal justice process is often difficult and most sexual violence cases do not end in a conviction. Restorative practices (hereafter RP) have been presented both as a possible alternative and a complement to the criminal justice process, which could improve victims’ experiences. However, there is also considerable resistance to the use of RP in cases of gender-based violence. Using a victim-centred lens, in which it is seen as a reaction to victimization that aims to address the needs of the victim and allow them to advance in their healing process, we examine RP. Based on semi-structured interviews with 18 victims of sexual violence in Canada who participated in RP, we explore the healing potential for victims. We conclude that for victims of sexual violence, victim-centred RP should be viewed as a tool for victim support and not only as another tool in the criminal justice toolkit.
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Dutch police officers perform an individual assessment for all victims they come into contact with. A victim’s vulnerability is assessed, based on six indicators and the employment of protection measures is decided upon. This study explored to what extent the indicators and protection measures are associated with repeat victimization. Analyses were based on Dutch police records from 146,585 victims and contained information from the individual assessment procedure and information repeat victimization within 1 year. Logistic regression analyses revealed that indicators and protection measures were significantly related to repeat victimization. The individual assessment may, therefore, contribute to the identification of victims vulnerable for repeat victimization as indicators referring to experiencing harm or a high-risk crime were related to repeat victimization. Also, the individual assessment might contribute to the protection of high-risk victims, as protection measures were found to mitigate the relation between some indicators and repeat victimization.
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Subcultural codes against compliance with the police, or “snitching,” have factored prominently in public and law enforcement discourses related to urban violence and crime prevention. However, scholarship on these issues focuses almost entirely on the United States. This study investigates attitudes toward compliance with the police and perceptions of snitching among a sample of a Black youths who reside in socially and economically marginalized neighbourhoods in Toronto. Drawing on 32 in-depth interviews, I examine how perceptions of community safety and experiences with policing have impacted young people’s willingness to report crimes and comply with police investigations. Contrary to popular discourses, being seen speaking with police or providing information did not necessarily constitute snitching. Rather, consistent with prior research, a complex set of variables, including age, gender, and the perceived seriousness of the crime, all factored in determining what constituted snitching and when someone was considered a snitch. My findings challenge the essentializing nature of popular discourses on snitching while also highlighting how diminished perceptions of police legitimacy and efficacy have impacted young people’s willingness to report crimes and comply with police investigations. Finally, I discuss the implications of my findings for efforts to reform the police and improve police–community relations.
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This study examined the factors affecting consideration of other ways than turning to the police, or non-police intervention, following potential victimization by members of ethnic minority. Performance, procedural justice, and social disorganization theories served as the study’s theoretical framework. The data were obtained from the 2019 Personal and Community Security Index Survey conducted in Israel and analyzed using logistic regression model. The analytical sample included 692 Arab citizens of Israel. Greater satisfaction with the police and high trust in the police were negatively associated with the consideration of non-police intervention. In contrast, perception of the increase in locality violence compared to the previous year and prior victimization were positively associated with the consideration of non-police intervention. The results imply that the police should improve their performance in Israel’s Arab society and direct efforts to the establishment more trustful relationship with its members, especially in localities experiencing increased violence.
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It has been long known that police recorded crime data is susceptible to substantial measurement error. However, despite its limitations, police data is widely used in regression models exploring the causes and effects of crime. Furthermore, because of the complex error mechanisms affecting police data, attempts to adjust for their impact are rare and tailored to specific settings (crime types, measurement models, outcome models, and precursors or consequences of crime). Here we introduce rcme: Recounting Crime with Measurement error, a new R package to enable sensitivity assessments of the impact of measurement error in analyses using police recorded crime rates across a wide range of settings. Using two real world examples – i) the link from violent crime to disorder, and ii) the role of collective efficacy in mitigating criminal damage – we demonstrate how rcme can be used to summarise the impacts of measurement error in empirical models used in research and practice.
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The present study utilized a subsample of 72 respondents to investigate sexual assault victims’ reporting behavior and their experiences with the reporting process in a setting which is highly understudied. Using data collected in Accra, Ghana, the study found many reasons explaining why female sexual assault victims reported incidents to the police. The most important reason cited by victims was that they wanted offenders to be caught and punished. Reasons for not reporting included perpetrators being known to the victims as well as family solving the problem. A multivariate analysis showed that sexual assault type, education, and age were significantly correlated to reporting of sexual assault to the police by victims. Policy recommendations of the findings are discussed.
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Full-text available
This study examined reasons why women in Ghana would report or not report sexual offenses to the police. Using a representative field survey, data were collected during summer of 2011 (N = 431) in the capital, Accra. We found that women would report sexual offenses because they want the offender to be caught and punished, and because crimes should be reported. Reasons for not reporting include when women consider the incident not serious enough, the perpetrator is known, and family will solve it. A multivariate analysis shows that only previous sexual victimization is a significant predictor of sexual offense reporting among women in Ghana.
Book
The study of decisions in the criminal justice process provides a useful focus for the examination of many fundamental aspects of criminal jus­ tice. These decisions are not always highly visible. They are made, or­ dinarily, within wide areas of discretion. The aims of the decisions are not always clear, and, indeed, the principal objectives of these decisions are often the subject of much debate. Usually they are not guided by explicit decision policies. Often the participants are unable to verbalize the basis for the selection of decision alternatives. Adequate information for the decisions is usually unavailable. Rarely can the decisions be demonstrated to be rational. By a rationaldecision we mean "that decision among those possible for the decisionmaker which, in the light of the information available, maximizes the probability of the achievement of the purpose of the decisionmaker in that specific and particular case" (Wilkins, 1974a: 70; also 1969). This definition, which stems from statistical decision theory, points to three fundamental characteristics of decisions. First, it is as­ sumed that a choice of possible decisions (or, more precisely, of possible alternatives) is available. If only one choice is possible, there is no de­ cision problem, and the question of rationality does not arise. Usually, of course, there will be a choice, even if the alternative is to decide not to decide-a choice that, of course, often has profound consequences.
Chapter
It is only in the past ten years that the role of the victim in the criminal justice system has again risen into prominence. There is now a plethora of studies, at least in Britain, considering the victim’s experiences, his views and his attitudes. Yet this recent upsurge of interest is in many ways surprising. We have known for some time how vital the victim is to the operation of the criminal justice system.
Article
Aim: Acute stress disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be seen in people who have been sexually assaulted. The aim of this study is to evaluate the socio-demographic characteristics of cases that are exposed to sexual assault and their relationship with PTSD. Materials and Methods: The forensic reports of 175 sexual assault cases were analyzed retrospectively who were assessed in terms of physical and mental health disorders by Hatay Forensic Medicine Directorate between January 2011-March 2013. Results: Of all victims, 143 (81,7%) were female and 32 (18,3%) were male. The ages of cases were ranged between 1 and 71 (median: male: 12, female: 16). It was determined that PTSD was developed in 47 victims after sexual assault and 3 cases were referred to a higher center. Sexual assaults were occurred more often in the home environment and victims were assaulted by people they knew (n: 123, 70,3%). PTSD development was significantly higher in victims who were assaulted by anal and vaginal route (p<0,001). There was no significant difference in the presence of PTSD between male and female victims. However it is observed that presence of PTSD increases with age (p<0,05). Conclusion: As a conclusion it is found that sexual assault by anal and vaginal region and older ages are the significant risk factors for development of PTSD.