Different Social Consequences between Responding to a Survey and Reporting a Crime to the Police

The social consequences of reporting an incident some time after the crime, to a researcher on behalf of the BCS, are completely different from the consequences of reporting it to the police. For this reason there will always be a deficit between BCS and recorded crime data that will reflect the decision-making of victims and the exercise of their discretion. One partner in a domestic violence situation may be willing to confide in a researcher, appreciating the anonymity of the survey, but wish the matter to remain private. At the other end of the scale a victim may be too terrified of making a formal complaint to the police for fear of the consequences from non-familial offenders who live in the same neighbourhood. The ease with which the public can contact the police may have a bearing on overall reporting rates, especially for the very poor who may not have access to telephones or cannot afford the cost of travel to report in person to a police station.

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