The case for survey-based comparative measures of crime

Jan van Dijk

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    The author argues that statistics of police-recorded crimes have limited utility for cross-country analyses of crime, due to varying legal definitions, reporting patterns and recording practices. In his view stand alone national victimisation surveys, with their varying methodologies and questionnaires, cannot reliably be used for cross-national comparisons either. This is especially true for older versions of such surveys, modelled after the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) of the USA, which try to mimic their country’s official statistics of police-recorded crimes. Victimisation surveys in the European tradition use less legalistic definitions of the public’s experiences of crime and are therefore more conducive to international standardisation. When such surveys are standardised to cover the common ground of crime in multiple jurisdictions, as is the case in the International Crime Victims Survey (ICVS), they can provide comparable data on the level and trends of crime of individual nations at relatively modest costs. In addition, such surveys can provide comparative data on crime reporting by victims, satisfaction with responses from police and other agencies, as well as on public attitudes toward safety and criminal justice. In the discussion, the author argues for an expedient execution of the planned EU Safety Survey in the European Union (EUSASU) and further work on the standardisation of victimisation surveys across the world by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)437-456
    Number of pages19
    JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
    VolumeVol 12
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


    • police statistics of crime, victimisation survey, comparative criminology, victimisation rate, reporting rate, EU victims directive, victim satisfaction, victim support


    Dive into the research topics of 'The case for survey-based comparative measures of crime'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this