ARE IMMIGRANTS DISCRIMINATED AGAINST IN REPORTING CRIMES?


Project leader


Funding source

Forte - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare


Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2008
End date: 31/12/2008
Funding: 1100000 SEK


Description

The purpose of the project is to elucidate whether immigrant perpetrators are discriminated against in reporting crimes to the police, using data collected with a questionnaire sent to victims of violent crimes, thefts or burglaries among the general public. In these data, the relationship between the victim's decision to report or not to report an identified perpetrator and the etnicity of the perpetrator is analyzed, controlling for factors that the victim can be assumed to have considered and that from a social perspective appear legitimate to consider. These factors refer to the victim's views of the seriousness of the crime, the possibilities of being compensated for the harm of the crime, the personal relation to the perpetrator, the perpetrator’s sex and age, the exposure to other crimes, and the actions of the police. It is assumed that victims primarily discriminate against perpetrators with whom they are unacquainted.

The questionnaire was sent to about 14 000 subjects, 18–50 years of age and randomly selected from a register of the total population of Sweden. 54 % responded. For those exposed to crime, the response rate was probably higher, because a great majority of the subjects were unexposed to crime and were therefore not very interested in responding. Subjects were asked about crimes that had occurred in a period of five years back in time, but only answers that pertain to crimes that had occurred in the last two years are analyzed, because the answers that pertain to older crimes proved to be unreliable. In total, 183 violent crimes and 86 thefts are analyzed. The burglaries were very few, and they are not closely analyzed.

According to the answers, the respondents reported relatively more immigrants than Swedes to the police. This relationship is statistically significant for the violent crimes. For these crimes, 69.9 % of the immigrants and 52.5 % of the Swedes were reported.

The most important analyses are performed using an ordinal logistic regression method. The odds of reporting immigrants are compared with the odds of reporting Swedes. Some models used are additive, others contain terms that describe interactions between perpetrator and victim ethnicities and the victim's acquaintance with the perpetrator.

For the additive models, results indicate that respondents were more inclined to report immigrants than Swedes. The relationship obtained is strong both for the violent crimes and for the thefts, and it is statistically significant for the violent crimes. Results also indicate that respondents were particularly inclined to report immigrants with an ethnicity of a type often pointed out in the debate on immigrants’ high criminality, and that they were relatively disinclined to report perpetrators with whom they were closely acquainted. This is true for both types of crimes.

For the interactive models, results indicate that Swedish respondents were more inclined to report a perpetrator with whom they were unacquainted if this person was an immigrant than if the person was a Swede. For each type of crime, this relationship is strong but statistically nonsignificant. For immigrant respondents, the same is true except that the relationship is significant for violent crimes. There is no indication that immigrants were less inclined than Swedes to report immigrants. For all respondents, irrespective of ethnicity, and for each type of crime, the inclination to report a perpetrator with whom the respondent was unacquainted was stronger if this person was an immigrant than if the person was a Swede, and these relationships are statistically significant.

Thus, the results indicate that immigrants were discriminated against in reporting crimes and that victims were disinclined to discriminate against perpetrators with whom they were closely acquainted. No result clearly speaks against the existence of discrimination. The results for the two types of crimes largely agree with each other.

Last updated on 2017-29-03 at 17:13