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ESRA 2023 Glance Program

All time references are in CEST

Measuring crime in times of change: survey developments and challenges 1

Session Organisers Dr Billy Gazard (Office for National Statistics)
Ms Catherine Grant (Office for National Statistics)
TimeThursday 20 July, 09:00 - 10:30
Room U6-08

Measuring crime in times of change: survey developments and challenges

Decision makers in politics and policing rely on survey studies for reliable trend data on crimes against populations at a national and local level as not all crimes are reported to the authorities. While the complex nature of classifying crimes has meant many crime surveys have relied on face-to-face surveying, disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a number of challenges to long standing survey designs and data collection methods. This has resulted in a number of developments in crime survey measurement, such as transformation of sample designs and exploration of alternative data collection modes, including online methods. However, crime surveys face a number of unique challenges in transformation, such as how to respond to the evolving nature of crime and respondent safety and well-being in answering questions on sensitive crimes.

This session will explore innovative approaches to crime survey measurement, including how survey methods and key measures of crime have been adjusted or developed following changes in society and in individuals’ experience of crime, as well as papers discussing experiments or pilot studies on any of the following topics:

• Changes to crime survey design, including multi-mode and online survey design experiments,
• Changes to sample design, including “push to web” experiments
• Discussion of differences in mode impact at different points in data collection, including sample bias, respondent safety and barriers to inclusion
• Measurement of new and emerging crime types and violence against women and girls

Keywords: crime, victimisation, survey design


Hiding the hate – the spatial context of official US hate crime reports

Mr Armin Küchler (University Bielefeld – BGHS) - Presenting Author

Hate crimes are an omnipresent societal issue – especially within the contemporary US. Crimes motivated by bias have multiple dimensions of cruelty not only directly for the victims but inherently as well for their societal groups. Incidents like e. g. the Trump election or the Covid-19 pandemic are associated with sparking an increase in hate crimes. However, to profoundly understand this phenomenon researches and state officials are in need of reliable information. Therefore, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has the federal mandate to collect nationwide information reported by law enforcement agencies. The goal is to detect hot spots and supply additional resources for areas suffering from hate crimes. However, this reporting behavior is suffering from multiple distortions. One notable factor seems to be within the local context. Therefore, this contribution is analyzing contextual aspects that influence the reporting behavior. Research found evidence that local political orientation, active hate groups and sociodemographic compositions have an effect on active norms in a local area. By referring to these aspects I am going to address the likelihood of hate crime reporting by looking at county specific effects from 2010 to 2020. I matched multiple data sources with the DOJ hate crime statistics containing information on hate groups, presidential voting behavior and additional county-based statistics. My spatial-temporal analysis shows complex and significant differences: for more conservative counties as well in some spatial regions with the presence of white supremacist hate groups the likelihood of reports actually reduces. These findings can be a valuable contribution to the discussion on how valid official hate crime statistics can be and how researchers, politicians and the general public should deal with biased official information on hate crimes.

Redesigning the Crime Survey for England and Wales

Mr Joseph Traynor (Office for National Statistics) - Presenting Author

The Crime Survey for England and Wales is undergoing the largest change to the way the survey has operated in its 40-year history. Following the Covid pandemic in 2020 the survey moved from face-to-face survey operation to a telephone survey; using repeat interviews of a panel of respondents rather than the traditional one-off random probability sample. Following the lessons learned from the pandemic, and a desire to double the number of interviews on which the survey’s estimates are based from circa 35,000 to 70,000, the new survey will in future: Operate using a new sample design; move to multi-modal operation (telephone/online/face-to-face operation), and; make use of a panel design using repeat interviews over several years. This presentation will discuss lessons learned from the Covid pandemic and the new and innovative research that will eventually lead to a new Crime Survey providing modern victimisation survey estimates.

Testing reliability and validity of ALLMOR

Mr Alexander Betz (Kahtolische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt)
Professor Stefanie Eifler (Kahtolische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt) - Presenting Author

Morality is an important, yet understudied construct in criminology and criminal sociology. Most theories do not differentiate between morality and norm internalisation, which is important because the measure of norm internalisation entails effects of deterrence (you comply to them because you fear sanctions, not necessarily because you feel it is right). This leads to mismeasurements of morality in many seminal theories such as Situational Action Theory. To take a first step to measure the morality of a subject, Leitgöb et al (2020) introduced the ALLMOR-Scale. Our study aims to test the reliability of this scale and to validate it. To test the reliability, datasets from two German cities are compared (Frankfurt, 2019; Bielefeld 2021). In which the ALLMOR-Scale was presented identically. To test the validity of the scale, the data from Bielefeld 2021 are compared with data collected in Bielefeld in 2018. In addition to the ALLMOR-scale the survey included several items that did not make the cut into the scale. Those are used to (re-)validate the scale.

50 years of NCVS data: What we’ve accomplished and where we are headed

Dr Jennifer Truman (Bureau of Justice Statistics) - Presenting Author
Ms Heather Brotsos (Bureau of Justice Statistics)

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is the primary source of information on criminal victimization in the United States. The first full year of this data collection as the National Crime Survey was completed in 1973. 50 years later the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) continues to innovate and improve measurement of crime under the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data collection program. This presentation will focus on research under two areas within the NCVS program: 1) efforts to modernize the NCVS instrument, and 2) research on alternative modes of data collection.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey: how a face to face survey adapted to the pandemic and changing demands for crime information

Dr Mark Bell (Scottish Government) - Presenting Author
Dr Jocelyn Hickey (Scottish Government)
Mr Robert Cook (Scottish Government)

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) is the established source of information on people’s experiences and perceptions of crime, policing and the justice system in Scotland; based on around 5,500 interviews with adults aged 16+ in private households.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all Scottish Government face-to-face interviewing was suspended in March 2020. This decision opened up an evidence gap on the extent and prevalence of crime in Scotland during the pandemic, with particular challenges for assessing crimes not reported to the police, where other sources cannot provide an alternative. We developed The Scottish Victimisation Telephone Survey (SVTS) in autumn 2020, using telephone-based interviews, on the population’s experience of crime and feelings of safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. This survey differed from the SCJS in a number of ways and is therefore not directly comparable. This was published in February 2021.
Interviews for the SCJS restarted in November 2021. It started with a ‘knock-to-nudge’ approach (interviewer knocks on their door to arrange a phone interview) and then resumed in-home face-to-face interviewing when it was considered safe, with respondents given the option of a phone interview. The final report, we will examine the potential impact that the mixed-mode approach taken may have had on the comparability of these results to the existing SCJS time-series. It is anticipated that findings from the 2021/22 SCJS will be published in autumn 2023.
Looking to future, we’re engaged in a programme of work to ensure the survey continues to keep pace with crime and legislation, reflects victim's experiences of crime in Scotland. This includes estimating the volume of Fraud and computer misuse and improving how we collect information on violence against women and girls.