Victim surveys are done by the public that ask them to confess to a crime that they have committed but have not been caught, e.g. the British Crime survey. They are large scale surveys of the population, of which people are interviewed and asked about what crimes have been committed against them. The BCS for example measures the amount of crime people have experienced in England and Wales in the past year, this survey collects information about: victims of crime, how it occurred and the behaviour of the offenders. The first BCS was done in 1981 and found that even though there were 11 million cases of crime, only 3 million were reported.
There are of course some advantages of victim surveys, the major one would be that it may uncover some of the hidden figure of crime, it also identifies local, geographically focused figures. Finally an advantage would be that in some cases the victims cannot be questioned such as in the case of child abuse.
• Reliability of information.
• Individuals maybe asked to reveal explicit information (rape).
• The interviews are conducted over the telephone and other household members may be present.
• The privacy is needed to maximize reporting and it is not ensured by the interview protocol.
• Victimization surveys are extremely expensive, a survey of the population cannot be seen as not financially feasible, because a large sample is needed to reliably project state-wide victim rates, and information is still based upon estimation.
• There is no guarantee that individuals will be any more willing to report events to census workers than to the police.
• In addition, the quality and quantity of information obtained by a survey is very sensitive to how questions are asked.