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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)

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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.

Keywords: National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS); calling the police; crime-reporting trends; police notification

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-9125.2010.00182.x

Affiliations: 1: College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University 2: Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, University of Missouri—St. Louis

Publication date: 2010-02-01

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