9.2 Survey Design

Suggested topics to include in victim survey questionnaires include:

  1. The victim’s overall feelings of safety throughout the process.
  2. Threats to or intimidation of the victim by the offender or the offender’s allies, before the victim’s report, during the criminal justice process, and after case resolution, as well as the effectiveness of the prosecutor’s efforts to educate victims and witnesses about intimidation, identify intimidation behaviors, and respond to intimidation or threats. Because threats designed to silence victims may have occurred well before the assault, questions should be designed to capture threats that have preceded the immediate incident and report.
  3. Overall satisfaction with the victim’s interactions with each partner (law enforcement, prosecution, healthcare, and victim services).
  4. The timeliness of response on the part of prosecutors and allied professionals, including the time it took from report to receipt of follow-up medical care or advocacy services; the time it took for a follow-up interview with a detective after the initial report; the time it took for the prosecutor’s office to contact the victim; frequency of contact from personnel at the prosecutor’s office; and the timing of various stages of the prosecution through final disposition.
  5. Whether the victim received clear and helpful information about the criminal justice process, including information regarding key allied professionals and any applicable victims’ rights statutes.
  6. The supportiveness/respectfulness of personnel with whom the victim came into contact, including responding law enforcement officers, medical forensic examiners, detectives/investigators, prosecutors, and community advocates.
  7. The quality/helpfulness of the various types of assistance the victim received, such as crisis intervention, emergency housing, physical health care, mental health care, transportation, emotional support, legal advocacy, medical advocacy, and trial preparation.
  8. The victim’s satisfaction with the outcome of the case.
  9. The victim’s feeling of safety since case resolution.
  10. The victim’s explanations for any negative responses/feedback.
  11. The victim’s suggestions for improving the process.

To encourage victims to complete the survey, keep it short — perhaps no more than two pages. The questions should be clearly worded and free of jargon. Most questions should be closed-ended, meaning the respondent chooses among a small number of pre-specified responses (e.g., excellent, good, fair, poor, n/a). The survey can also include “open-ended” questions (for which a respondent is asked to write out a narrative answer) for topics on which stakeholders are interested in narrative information – but the number of open-ended questions should be limited. Victim responses to closed-ended questions can be more quickly and efficiently analyzed (with simple summary analysis), whereas narrative answers require a lengthier process and must be reviewed for themes.

TIP: Involve all partners in the development of the survey and consider their opinions regarding how the survey should be implemented. This will not only help ensure that the survey covers the right topics, but will also increase the buy-in and utility of the survey to all partners.