A victim survey is one which investigates (through surveys) crimes such as rape, abuse (spouse, child or elder) and victims of hate crimes in order to study how a traumatic experience can have an impact on the individuals that have experienced such things in an ethical as possible technique. The survey is sent out to people and asks them questions such as if they have been a victim of crimes and whether they have or have not reported it to the police. It’s done as a self-report questionnaire to avoid lies due to demand characteristics or social desirability from affecting the results and making them less valid and less reliable as the subject will be able to do it in the comfort of their own home and so that they’ll be able to do it without others seeing or knowing therefore they’ll be more likely to express their emotions and talk more easily about the events that have taken place in their lives. These surveys can be done either as a national or on a local level, there is the national survey which ask of the whole of the country to take part and talk about crimes that have been committed against them, the area/neighbourhood survey which asks people who live within a specific area (such as one where there are more reported cases of rape or maybe one where there is cases of crime that are rarely reported) and the international crime victim survey which looks at things such as fear of crime social cohesion, social control, policing, and crime prevention. It has been found that these types of surveys have the tendency to find more than double the amounts of crime compared to what the official crime statistics discover showing that people feel uneasy with the idea of reporting crimes to the police showing that there is a problem within the justice system.
There are many advantages to using a victim survey to study the extent to which delinquency affects the lives of others such as being able to collect data that is higher in validity (face validity in particular) meaning that the data is true to what it should be measuring as it will suffer less from demand characteristics and social desirability, but there is a possibility of this still occurring, in which case not only will it make data less valid, but less reliable as well so if the study was conducted in another place, the data would vary not due to differences of rates of crime but due to people lying either to gain more sympathy or to try to make them self-look like what they would perceive as “cooler”. Also it studies the extent to which crime affects certain areas so that the police can target certain areas that seem to need more help and so that we can change the way people see crime in these areas through education but with this said, and changes made would be low in external reliability as it can only be generalised to that time and place, meaning that in other times or places the research will be seen as less valid and less useful to those individuals.