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  1. Victim of online crime sees little use in reporting to the police

Victim of online crime sees little use in reporting to the police

Victims of online crime rarely report this to the police and when they do, this often leads to dissatisfaction, according to research by the NSCR and Erasmus University, commissioned by the Police and Science Research Program. Victims more often report the offenses to other organizations such as banks, hotlines or help desks.

In particular, offenses aimed at ICT systems, such as malware, ransomware, hacking and DDoS attacks, are rarely reported to the police. The most frequently cited reasons people give are that they "solve it themselves" and that "the police will not do anything about it." In half of the cases, victims who did report the crime were (very) dissatisfied with the way in which the police handled the report. The most frequently cited reasons for this dissatisfaction are that the police were indifferent and that the problems have not been resolved. It therefore seems important that the police perform expectations management, so that it is clear to victims what is being done with their report and how likely it is that the perpetrator will be tracked down.

Only one in seven victims goes to the police

The study used two samples of 595 citizens and 529 entrepreneurs to investigate which crime and victim characteristics predict the willingness to report after online crime. We also looked at the main reasons for whether or not to report a crime, and what the experiences of victims are with reporting online crime. A vignette study (imaginary situations) investigated how respondents would react in some hypothetical cases of victimization of online crime. Two thirds of the respondents indicate that they would report this. When the same people are then asked how they acted after actually becoming a victim of online crime, it turns out that only one in seven turns to the police.

Report to prevent the perpetrator from striking again

Crime characteristics appear to explain the willingness to report more than personal and company characteristics. Online crime aimed at ICT systems (malware, hacking) is less often reported to the police than an interpersonal crime (online threat, cyberstalking) or forms of online fraud (identity fraud, marketplace fraud). One reason for victims to report online crime is to prevent the perpetrator from striking again (at another person) and because they want the perpetrator to be caught. People are also more willing to report more serious offenses.

Online crime is reported to the bank and helpdesk

In general, the results from the citizen and entrepreneur studies are very similar. This finding, in combination with the limited role of personal and business characteristics, suggests that policies to increase victim willingness to report need not target specific subgroups. Finally, it appears that one in three victims does report online crime to other organizations (banks, hotlines, help desks). This offers opportunities for cooperation between the police and these parties, with the aim of improving the information position of the police. Lack of insight into the scale of online crime makes it more difficult to spot crime trends and track down perpetrators of online crime. In addition, partly on the basis of reports, it is determined what the police is making money and manpower available for.

Publication details and further reading

S.G.A. van de Weijer, E.R. Leukfeldt, S. van der Zee (2020). Slachtoffer van onlinecriminaliteit, wat nu? Een onderzoek naar aangiftebereidheid onder burgers en ondernemers. Politie & Wetenschap.

Dr Steve van de Weijer

Senior Researcher

Prof. Rutger Leukfeldt

Senior Researcher

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