The fear of reprisal and the failure of victims to report a personal crime

Abstract

Most people who fail to report their victimizations to the police state either that the incident was not serious enough to warrant official attention or that nothing could be done. However, a small proportion of victims states that they did not report because of their fear of reprisal. Based on National Crime Panel victimization data, the offense and personal characteristics of these victims are contrasted with the total victim and nonreporting victim populations. Contrary to the general reasons for not reporting a crime, several personal and offense characteristics are related to reprisal. For instance, reprisal is more often a factor in personal victimizations where victims are female and acquainted with their offenders. The more dangerous the incident, the more often reprisal is the stated reason for not calling the police. The results of the analysis strongly suggest that in certain social environments the fear of reprisal is a major factor in the reporting of crime.

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Singer, S.I. The fear of reprisal and the failure of victims to report a personal crime. J Quant Criminol 4, 289–302 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01072455

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Key words

  • victim reporting
  • fear
  • offender reprisal