Victim Surveys. Millie Young
What is a victim survey?
A victim survey is a survey that asks a sample of people to answer questions on what crimes have been committed against them over a fixed period of time and whether or not they have been reported to the police. Victim studies may be carried out at a national or local level. A national level victim survey requires a whole country to provide information on crimes which have been perpetrated against each individual. An example of a victim survey carried out at a national level is The British Crime Survey. A local level survey uses a specific, usually inner city neighbourhood and sociologists or criminologists engage in a more detailed study of the same issues.
Victim studies are completed by the public and they request them to report any crimes which they have experienced, regardless of whether or not they have reported them. This is one of the main ways in which the dark figure of crime is exposed particularly in cases of abuse. These surveys usually show the level of criminal activity is at least double that which appears in the official crime statistics.
- Qualitative data – hard to analyse as there is a lot of it and not easy to group as each piece of information can be different
- Respondents cannot ask if they are unsure of a question
- Questions cannot be changed (like in interviews) dependent on answers given
- Low response rate, especially if the questions are sensitive, as participants may not want to answer the questions
- Social desirability – participants can lie to try to please the researcher
- Not all crimes will be reported
- In some cases the victim cannot be questioned (in cases of child abuse)
- Rich qualitative data
- Can be anonymous which would make participants more likely to be honest
- Practical as they are easy to administer and produce.
- Cheaper than other methods e.g interviews
- Allows respondents to explain in their own words
- Shows change over time
- Can show areas of hidden crime
- Focuses on the problems as people experience them