European Journal of Policing Studies


Online Crime Reporting: A New Threat to Police Legitimacy?

Keywords law enforcement, crime reporting, crime victims, property crime, procedural justice
Authors Kris R. Henning, Kimberly Kahn, Kathryn Wuschke, Christian Peterson en Stephen Yakots
Author's information

Kris R. Henning
Kris Henning, Professor, Department of Criminology, Criminal Justice, Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA.

Kimberly Kahn
Kimberley Kahn, Professor, Department of Psychology, Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA.

Kathryn Wuschke
Kathryn Wuschke, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA.

Christian Peterson
Christian Peterson, Police Data Research Manager, Portland Police Bureau, Portland, OR, USA.

Stephen Yakots
Stephen Yakots, Sergeant, Portland Police Bureau, Portland, OR, USA
  • Abstract

      Police are more likely to be perceived as legitimate when officers are procedurally just during interactions with the public (i.e. impartial, transparent, fair and respectful). Efforts to reinforce these skills have largely focused on contacts initiated by officers. Less attention has been paid to interactions with crime victims. Moreover, in recent years many police departments have sought to increase efficiency by directing victims to report online, rather than communicating directly with an officer. Very little is known about how victims experience online reporting systems. This study surveyed 1,198 property crime victims who used a large US police department’s online reporting portal. The primary objective was to evaluate the online reporting system using a procedural justice lens. One out of eight respondents said the agency’s online system was difficult to use, and just 16.7% were satisfied with the agency’s handling of their online report. Bivariate and multivariate analyses are used to identify factors associated with satisfaction, and qualitative data are used to document the specific problems victims encountered while using the online portal. Recommendations for improving online reporting are provided, including a discussion of enhancing procedural justice in technology-mediated police communications.

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