Crime statistics do not reflect the real extent of crime but only those criminal acts which are actually reported to the police. “Dark field research” analyses unreported criminal acts and therefore allows an approximation of crime reality. An useful instrument to bring light into the dark field is a victimization survey that interrogates the population regarding their victimization experiences.
This project aimed at generating reliable data concerning the criminal acts of damage to property, robbery, theft, burglary, harassment and violence by interrogating a representative sample of the Austrian population (n=10,000) on their victimization experiences. The results of the study were compared with the data of the official crime statistics and the corresponding reporting rate was calculated. Differences in the characteristics of the victims, the circumstances or the consequences of the criminal act between bright field and dark field were revealed. A step-by-step approach was chosen to guarantee reliable results: in a first step qualitative investigation methods (expert interviews, focus groups) were applied to identify sensible aspects in time as such, possible motivation for not reporting a criminal act, ambiguities regarding definition (as differences in colloquial and legal definitions) and other sources of misunderstandings were recognized to provide important inputs for the quantitative survey.
The knowledge generated in the course of this project complements the crime statistics in a reasonable way. Consequently, the resources available for crime prevention can be applied more purpusfully which is guaranteed by including the Federal Security Academy of the Federal Ministry of the Interior as well as the Federal Criminal Agency.
Mag. Ulrike Röhsner
MAKAM Market Research GmbH
Other Project partner
Bundesministerium für Inneres
- Dr. Katharina Weiss, Institut für Wissenschaft und Forschung an der Sicherheitsakademie
- ORat Dr. Hans Peter Stückler, Abteilung Kriminalstrategie im Bundeskriminalamt