Crime Case Reporting And The Observable Impact On It’s Victims

Project and Seminar Material for Criminology And Security Studies

Crime Case Reporting And The Observable Impact On It’s Victims


Abstract


Though the various effects of crime constitute its nature, these have suffered great research neglect in Nigeria. This study examined the influence of the nature of crime case on reporting among victims in Lagos, Nigeria. It used quantitative and qualitative methods. Covering the three senatorial districts in Lagos, it obtained data from 948 respondents selected through a multistage sampling procedure. Quantitative data were analysed at three levels and qualitative data were content analysed. Findings showed more crime (52.2%) was unreported than reported (47.8%). The nature of crime is not significantly related to reporting (ᵡ2 p value > 0.05). The nature of crime drives reporting and urges government to include reporting education in school curriculum for a more inclusive reporting regime.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to Study

Nature of crime is the form which any criminal activity that has the potential to cause significant physical, financial and material losses to victim takes. Thus, the impact of the nature of crime is probably best determined by the perceived seriousness or intensity of its effects in addition to the duration of its pains essentially from the victim’s own perspective. Almost always, the nature of a crime assumes a meaning only in the context of a manifestly subjective assessment by the victim of the consequences of his/her victimisation. In other words, the extent of victims’ losses determines the seriousness of crime. In Nigeria, as it is everywhere else, crime is not a new phenomenon, its form, rhythm, technique and effects are prone to rapid changes. If Omisakin (1998) found in Lagos, more than other parts of Nigeria, that crime particularly armed robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking, fraud, traffic offence, rape, murder and theft have become more serious to tackle as they have manifested with new methods and techniques, the new methods and techniques have the capacity to change the nature of crimes in Lagos.

As it is in contemporary times, delinquency and criminal behaviours are common phenomena in Nigeria. The high rate of occurrence in recent time is of greater concern to the citizens and their governments than it ever had been. Crime statistics spread sheet on offences against persons, property and lawful authority and local acts, 2009 in all state commands show that in 2008, there were 35,109 offences against persons while in 2009 it was 38, 955 (an increase of 3,846 cases), offences against property in 2008 was 47,626 and in 2009 it was 64, 286 (an increase of 16,660 cases), offences against authority in 2008 was 5,938 and in 2009 it was 7,878 (an increase of 1,940 cases), offences against local acts in 2008 was 90,156 and in 2009 it was 1,378 (a decrease of 88,778 cases) (Nigeria Police Watch, nd). The actual experience of crime in Nigeria revealed by the report of 2013 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) by CLEEN Foundation confirmed that as much as a quarter of respondents (25.0%) said that they had been victims of crime during 2012. The survey also indicated that the number of victims of crime was highest in Enugu state with 70.0%, followed by Ekiti and Ebonyi States (both 65.0%). The national average was 25.0%. Katsina State had 9.0%, while Ogun State had the lowest score of 5.0%. Analysing experience of crime by regions in Nigeria, the south east recorded highest with 44.0% while the North West recorded lowest score of 18.0%. Lagos state also recorded 18.0%.

In this context, Lagos was second state most vulnerable site to kidnapping (4.0%), twentieth to robbery, seventh in physical assault (35.0%), fourth in theft of mobile phones (55.0%), third in car theft (5.0%) in Nigeria (CLEEN Foundation, 2013). Besides, the Lagos police command foiled 462 and 418 cases of robbery in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Out of the 1448 and 1263 vehicles stolen in Lagos in 2012 and 2013 respectively, 1187 vehicles were recovered in 2012 and only 954 vehicles have been recovered in 2013. In all, the police recovered 371 arms and 26,058 ammunitions in 2013 while 328 arms and 3553 ammunition were recovered in 2012. The police arrested 569 robbery suspects between November 2011 and October 2012 as against 522 recorded in the previous year. Moreover, 270 people were murdered in different parts of Lagos while a total of 32 policemen died in gun exchanges with armed robbers leading to the police killing 140 robbers (Manko, 2012).

Despite a Lagos law that has led to the disappearance of commercial motorcycle operators from the major streets of the city following claims that they are responsible for most criminal activities, the state of Lagos still ranks high as one of the states with the highest crime rates in Nigeria according to a new survey released by the CLEEN Foundation. In the survey, 67% of Lagos residents have fear of becoming victims of crimes; the general public believe that crime rate in Lagos actually increased from 12% to 21% between 2011 and 2012 making robbery (28%) and theft of property (17%) the more prevalent crimes in the state. The survey also shows that unlike its counterparts in the southwest geopolitical zone of Nigeria, which have seen reduction in assault-related crimes, assault cases in Lagos state skyrocketed from 27% to 38% in 2012 from 11% in 2011 (Ogundipe, 2013).

The increase in crime, judging by available statistics appears to continue every year. Frightening as the data seem, they do not make the nature of the crime that produced them manifest. If 67.0% of Lagos residents have fear of becoming victims of crimes, 23.0% claimed to have experienced crime, the public believed that crime rate in Lagos increased from 12.0% to 21.0% between 2011 and 2012 with robbery at 28.0% and theft of property at 17.0% as the more prevalent offences in the state (CLEEN Foundation, 2013), then crime rate in Lagos is high enough to justify this inquiry. The influence of nature of crime on the crime reporting practices of victims in the study site has not been well studied. It is against this background that this study provided answers to the following questions: (i) What is the nature of crime that predicts victims’ crime reporting practices? (ii) How does the nature of crime influence victims’ crime reporting practices? (iii) How can the influences of nature of crime on victims’ crime reporting practices be minimised in the study site?


1.2 Statement of the Problem.

Many societies all over the world have had to contend with the consequences of criminal activities, which include lives and properties fear of the unknown, political instability, victimization by conventional criminals, amongst others.(Fayeye, 2010.)

Even though a member of the society reports a crime to a law enforcement officer, it would not be counted unless it is recorded in a way that allows it to be incorporated into the crime statistics, as a consequence, offending particularly minor offending, may be significantly under counted in situations where law enforcement officers are overloaded with work or do not perceive the offending as worth recording. Some crimes reported are not done in a way that the actual event of things is made known. These crimes lack uniformity, which produce obvious difficulties in actually investigating and solving the crimes that are reported. Another causal factor may include the time frame of the crime. A firsthand account is relatively low. For example by the time a robbery case is being reported, the robbers will probably have fled the victims in the hospital, answering police questions if any is around or even in the mortuary.

Certain behaviour are labelled deviant which in actual fact may not be, according to the criminal code of that particular society. Members of the society (victims and witnesses), are most times ignorant of criminal laws. When such behaviours are reported, they are more or less unimportant. Crimes known to police (CKP), already certified as reported may not be analyzed as desired by victims of such immoral acts. Charges may be dropped, even when the perpetrator is arrested. Such is the situation when there is lack of evidence. Another popular incidence is the arrest of innocent persons in place of those that actually committed the crimes. This maybe as a result of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Pleading guilty to a crime, lower than that which an offender commits is another major problem. In most cases, it reduces the levity of punishment and sentence becomes disproportionate to the actual crime committed. Also among the problems associated with crime reporting, is the dependency of skills on both the prosecuting counsel and defense counsel, with convictions and acquaintances actually depending on the professional skills of both counsels.

Another problem associated with the procedure of reporting crimes is the inconsistencies involved in information given out by the so-called witnesses, when crimes are being investigated. The illiterate nature of most citizens about the legal and criminal code of its society poses a greater threat. Some just give information about a crime thinking that by doing so; they will be popular, given money for coming forth with’ vital information’. With this, they say or do anything to act as if they were present when the crime occurred. This scenario drastically slows down the process of justice.


1.3 Aims and Objectives.

The motive behind carrying out this research work is to properly and carefully scrutinize the effect of behaviour contrary to the formal law in the society, on its victims and to achieve the following aims;

  1. To assess the actual level of crime as against reported crimes.
  2. To highlight the effect or impact of such reported crimes on their victims.
  3. To make practical suggestions on how to reduce the negative effects of crimes.
  4. To suggest ways in which criminals are to be punished, for correction.
  5. To ascertain who exactly can be held responsible for widespread of criminal activities.

1.4 Scope of Study.

This research work is basically concerned with the major effect of crime reporting on the victims and the impact of proper investigation of criminal activities amongst members of the Ilorin metropolitan areas.

For the purpose of accurate and effective research work, the study is restricted to a selected sample, from the entire metropolis, a representative of a fair proportion as a whole.


1.5 Significance of the Study.

Most importantly, this research work is to contribute to the knowledge of the criminal activities and how they may be reduced or at most eradicated.

It shall also act as a basis for further investigation or scrutinization on crime reporting and the various psychological social effects on its victims.

Lastly, it is an attempt to bring into limelight; some of the errors involved in the process of crime reporting and suggest likely solutions on how to improve these services.


1.6 Scope of Study.

This research work is basically concerned with the major effect of crime reporting on the victims and the impact of proper investigation of criminal activities amongst members of the Lagos metropolitan areas.

For the purpose of accurate and effective research work, the study is restricted to a selected sample, from the entire metropolis, a representative of a fair proportion as a whole.


1.7 Operational Definition of Concepts

This subsection operationalizes the concepts used in the study. This is in compliance with the guideline provided by Patten (2005) that good science starts with good definition and aminimum level of consensus is needed on the definition of what the field is and what it is not. It is therefore equally important to highlight the ones to be used in the study.

1. Crime Victims

Victims are persons who have suffered death, physical or mental anguish, or loss of property as the result of an actual or attempted criminal offence committed by another person (Schmalleger, 2003). However, Black‟s Law dictionary, ninth edition (2009) defines a victim as a person harmed by a crime, tort or other wrong. In this study, a victim is anybody, irrespective of age, sex, ethnicity, creed or nationality, who on the account of not being adequately protected, suffers injury from anybody, regardless of their relationships.

2. Crime Reporting

While Soares (2004) noted that crime reporting is the fraction of the total number of crimes that is actually reported to the police, Goudriaan (2006) observed that crime reporting is notifying the police of a crime that took place. On the other hand, Alemika (2009) noted that people report their experience of criminal victimisation to different agencies, including non-law enforcement agencies depending on what they perceive as the cost of doing so as well as their individual perception of personal gratification from doing so. In this study, therefore, crime reporting is taken to be the deliberate act of notifying the formal or diverse informal structures of crime control about the occurrence of a crime.


Chapter Five


Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations

Discussion

Crime is an endemic global challenge. Therefore, no human settlement is insulated from it. More than half of the respondents that participated in the survey noted that the nature of crime that had minor effects on victims was not reported. Qualitative data also support quantitative submissions here. In the study site, as a tradition, crimes are not reported for the purpose of enriching crime statistics. If the value of loss is negligible, victims will ignore involving the police probably because of financial and social cost of reporting and the need to sustain fragile social network. Majority of the respondents indicated that fearful weapons were used in their victimisation. The Nigerian factor also complicates the conceptualization of the nature of crime which “has come to mean unfortunately, corruption, nepotism, dishonesty, fraud and anything that is negative in our national life” (Jubril, 2003: 2, 8, 10), such that “equality before the law” appears to be honoured more in breach than in its observance (Aguda, 1986:31-2).

The foregoing are in tandem with crime data which indicate that a small number of offenders develop so powerful protective network to enjoy immunity in the event of their joining a few chronic career criminals who account for a disproportionate amount of crime in the communities of Lagos. Criminal activities have become so adorned in many Nigerian societies that citizens no longer recognize that economic and financial crimes are kindred offences with extremely thin line separating them and that all economic crimes are financial crimes but not all financial crimes are economic crimes (Ribadu, 2004). Findings of this study support earlier findings that crimes involving an armed offender compared to incidents involving an unarmed attacker are more likely to be reported to the police (Conaway & Lohr, 1994; Hart & Rennison, 2003; Williams, 1984). Due to educational status of respondents and the influence of culture on their crime reporting behaviour, majority of the respondents acknowledged that residents were ignorant of the gains of crime reporting.

Both quantitative and qualitative data agreed that victims without education reported more crimes than educated victims in the study site. The objective case in Nigeria is that citizens who are age 41years and above are those who besiege the political terrain like a colossus. They are the ones that commit the most heinous crimes in the Nigerian society. The non crime reporting trend is not a corollary of illiteracy. At least, data show that a comfortable majority of the respondents of this study have tertiary education and are members of the two main religious bodies in the country. For the reason that border on the potency of imported trendy values to eclipse normative standards of residents in the study site, the domination of contemporary American society by the norms of minding one’s own business (Batson, Duncan, Ackerman, Buckley & Birch, 1981; Cialdini, Brown, Lewis, Luce, & Neuberg, 1997; Stürmer, Snyder, & Omoto, 2005) appears to have impacted negatively on the pattern of residents’ crime reporting practices. This normative explanation has been used to understand and explain actions related to a variety of crime contexts, such as bystander intervention (Hart & Miethe, 2008; Luckenbill, 1997; Miethe & Deibert, 2007; Miethe & Regoeczi, 2004).

Findings of this study reinforce those earlier found about the severity of a crime being important; that is, crimes that are more severe are generally more likely to be reported than non-serious offenses (Bachman, 1998; Birbeck et al., 1993; Goudriaan, Lynch, and Nieuwbeerta, 2004; Hart and Rennison, 2003; Kilpatrick, Saunders, Veronen, Best, and Von, 1987; Lizotte, 1985; Skogan, 1976, 1984). In the study, the nature of crime is not significantly associated with crime reporting. This finding is inconsistent with previous finding that serious crimes have a much greater likelihood of being reported to the police than less serious offences (Bennett & Wiegand, 1994; Gottfredson & Hindelang, 1979; Kury, Teske, & Würger, 1999; Pino & Meier, 1999; Skogan, 1976, 1984; Sparks, Genn, & Dodd, 1977). An exception to this is rape, considered by most to be the most severe non-fatal violence, is reported only about one-third of the time nationally (Rennison, 2002). Qualitative data emanating from this study maintained that rape is a rarely reported crime because of the implications for doing so on family dignity. A similar exception is noted in Illinois, where sex crimes were the least likely to come to the attention of the police (Hiselman, 2005). Thus supports mounting evidence that the degree of reporting appears contingent on the type of violence considered (Hart & Rennison, 2003; Rennison, 2007). Thus, individual perception about the seriousness of crime plays an important role in crime-reporting behaviour (Carcach, 1997; Bennett & Wiegand, 1994). Qualitative data from this study also show that a landlady refused police investigation of her victimization probably afraid she might be re-victimised if she volunteered information and the police later divulge these to the criminals.

The nature of crime in Nigeria is complex. In the time past, one notorious armed robber Anini confessed that his gang had George Iyamu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police as an insider within the police hierarchy who was their arrowhead. He shielded the robbers, would reveal police secrets to them and give them logistic supports such as arms, to carry out robbery operations. After each operation, Iyamu would join them in sharing the loot. As a result, he had choice buildings in Benin City; being how he invested the loots he obtained from men of the underworld (Anini, 1986). Rounding off the complexity of the nature of crime,Omo-Agege (1987) in his judgment said Anini will forever be remembered in the history of crime in this country, but it would be of unblessed memory. Few people if ever, would give the name to their children.

In some ways the Nigerian courts contributed to the complexity of the nature of crime. A typical case played out in the police pension scam case which involved John Yusuf, a Director at the Police Pension Office. The inadequate legal framework displayed by the Court in its decision handed down by Justice Abubakar Talba of an Abuja high court on January 28, 2013 seemed to encourage criminality. The suspect pleaded guilty to breach of trust and fraudulently converting N2bn of police pension funds to his private use. Upon conviction, the trial Judge sentenced him to two years imprisonment with an option of fine in the sum of N750,000 for the three offences to which he pleaded guilty even though, each of the three offenses attracted a maximum of two years jail term. Except conviction focuses on the nature of crime, Oladele (2014) cautions, we shall continue to witness this kind of inconsequential and unconscionable convictions. The law must be amended to provide for stiffer penalty and the criminal justice administration system must also be reviewed by the National Assembly.

It is surprising that more respondents did not report crimes having serious negative emotional, financial and physical effects. The reason for these could have been associated with the complex nature of judicial process and the roles played by networking against justice by the powerful. It is probably for this that the influence of nature of crime on crime reporting is not significant. In Nigeria, criminals operate in gangs to guarantee victim intimidation and ease of escape in case there is a formidable resistance. It is for this that the majority of respondents agreed that criminals often equip themselves with dangerous weapon to forestall any challenge. The complexity of nature of crime vis-à-vis reporting is so extraordinary that respondents conceded that the felt the kinds of injuries imaginable from their experiences of criminals.


Conclusion and Recommendations

The nature of crime has lots of practical implications for crime reporting practices of respondents in the study area. Though crimes that have severe effects on victims were reported less often than crimes that had minor effect, the pattern is largely contingent upon crime type. Therefore, policy makers should embark on policy designs and actions that can accelerate the changes in the social, economic and cultural substructure of society. Such goals may be achieved by consciously promoting gender balanced social, economic and cultural policies that can reduce the current ignorance and poverty levels of residents in the communities of Lagos. Although successive governments have been making what seemed as concerted efforts to reduce illiteracy, ignorance and poverty, these have not led to concrete and measurable improvement in household security.

It is therefore necessary to re-engineer, refocus and reposition these efforts to address social, economic and cultural conditions of community dwellers in the country. This can improve the perception of residents about the significance of crime reporting. As a result, victims can more capably respond to the desire to report crime whether they are mild, averagely serious or very serious, as a matter of civic duty. Finally, education is a powerful agent of social change; to that extent, the need to redesign education policy and implement same religiously should be rigorously pursued. It will be necessary to promote crime prevention and reduction education that addresses various aspects of crime reporting for public safety. Judging by the prevalent ignorance of community people about the gains of crime reporting, the values of reporting should be integrated into all levels of the nation’s educational system and engage adult extension classes, justice and allied professionals and other service providers to promote learners’ knowledge and skill that will make them freely report crimes in their adulthood for sustainable community safety.


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