Reporting crime to the police, 1973-2005: A multivariate analysis of long-term trends in the national crime survey (NCS) and national crime victimization survey (NCVS)

Eric P. Baumer, Janet L. Lauritsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

99 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although many efforts have been made during the past several decades to increase the reporting of crime to the police, we know little about the nature of long-term crime-reporting trends. Most research in this area has been limited to specific crime types (e.g., sexual assault), or it has not taken into account possible changes in the characteristics of incidents associated with police notification. In this article, we advance knowledge about long-term trends in the reporting of crime to the police by using data from the National Crime Survey (NCS) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and methods that take into account possible changes in the factors that affect reporting at the individual and incident level as well as changes in survey methodology. Using data from 1973 to 2005, our findings show that significant increases have occurred in the likelihood of police notification for sexual assault crimes as well as for other forms of assault and that these increases were observed for violence against women and violence against men, stranger and nonstranger violence, as well as crimes experienced by members of different racial and ethnic groups. The reporting of property victimization (i.e., motor vehicle theft, burglary, and larceny) also increased across time. Overall, observed increases in crime reporting account for about half of the divergence between the NCVS and the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) in the estimated magnitude of the 1990s crime decline-a result that highlights the need to corroborate findings about crime trends from multiple data sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-185
Number of pages55
JournalCriminology
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010

Fingerprint

Crime Victims
Police
Crime
multivariate analysis
victimization
police
Multivariate Analysis
offense
trend
assault
Violence
larceny
violence
Surveys and Questionnaires
incident
Theft
Information Storage and Retrieval
Motor Vehicles
Ethnic Groups
divergence

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

Cite this

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abstract = "Although many efforts have been made during the past several decades to increase the reporting of crime to the police, we know little about the nature of long-term crime-reporting trends. Most research in this area has been limited to specific crime types (e.g., sexual assault), or it has not taken into account possible changes in the characteristics of incidents associated with police notification. In this article, we advance knowledge about long-term trends in the reporting of crime to the police by using data from the National Crime Survey (NCS) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and methods that take into account possible changes in the factors that affect reporting at the individual and incident level as well as changes in survey methodology. Using data from 1973 to 2005, our findings show that significant increases have occurred in the likelihood of police notification for sexual assault crimes as well as for other forms of assault and that these increases were observed for violence against women and violence against men, stranger and nonstranger violence, as well as crimes experienced by members of different racial and ethnic groups. The reporting of property victimization (i.e., motor vehicle theft, burglary, and larceny) also increased across time. Overall, observed increases in crime reporting account for about half of the divergence between the NCVS and the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) in the estimated magnitude of the 1990s crime decline-a result that highlights the need to corroborate findings about crime trends from multiple data sources.",
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