This subchapter suggests procedures for obtaining estimates of the number of cases not reported to law enforcement (Measure 4) and the number of these cases categorized by reason for not reporting (Measure 4a).6 The data on (Measure 4) plus the number of cases reported to law enforcement (Measure 3) provides a more complete count of sexual violence crimes occurring in a community. Collecting and tabulating the reason for not reporting cases (Measure 4a) can greatly enhance the value of the information by providing insight into how the criminal justice system can enhance victims’ ability to report sexual violence.
Data Collection for OM-4. The number of sexual violence cases reported by victims to a health or victim service agency, public or private, but not to law enforcement, will need to come from caseworker interviews with each victim. Such cases would include those in which the victim requested a sexual assault medical forensic exam at the hospital but declined to report to law enforcement.7
This information, when added to the number of cases in which victims reported to law enforcement, will provide a more accurate count of the number of sexual violence crimes that occurred within the jurisdiction. However, this process does not provide information on the number of sexual violence crimes not reported to any of the partners.8
Data Collection for OM-3a: The data for Measure 3 will be considerably more useful if it is also broken out by reason(s) for declining to report. This information can greatly assist in targeting actions for improvement.
Health and/or victim service partners will need to collect and provide the data for this measure. The number of sexual violence incidents victims decline to report to law enforcement is not commonly tabulated by such organizations.
Even more rarely are the reasons for nonreporting noted. To obtain this data, the jurisdiction will need to work with these organizations to set up a process for routinely obtaining this information from victims in a way that does not compromise the victim’s identity. This process calls for health and/or victim service partners to explore with each of these victims the victim’s reason(s) for declining to report and then to provide the health and/or victim service partner’s interpretation and judgment as to the victim’s reasons. This data would then be reported to the prosecutor’s office.
The data needed for each reporting period is the total number and percentage of assaults victims indicated they did not want to report to law enforcement. Subtotals by selected victim characteristics (such as age, risk level, ethnicity and/or underserved characteristics) or any others will make the data considerably more helpful. For example, a tabulation might be made of the number and percentage of non-reporting victims that stated fear of treatment by police or prosecutors as the reason they did not come forward.
We emphasize that health and/or victim service providers should not provide data that would enable others to identify those victims who decided not to report the sexual violence crime to the police, unless such information is legally required. The outcome data for Measure 4 and Measure 4a require only the totals for each category of victim.
To help provide assessments that are more accurate and reliable, Exhibit 3-1 provides a starter list of such reasons. This list of factors is supported by research examining the reasons why victims decline to report sexual violence crimes.