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“How Should the Police Let Victims Down?” The Impact of Reassurance Call-Backs by Local Police Officers to Victims of Vehicle and Cycle Crimes: A Block Randomized Controlled Trial

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Clark, B 
Harinam, V 


jats:p Most victims’ cases are not progressed through the criminal justice system, which is a phenomenon linked to low satisfaction with police performance. Little is known about how police can fairly and effectively “let victims down.” One mechanism is a call-back, which is prevalent in other professions but less so in policing and could be applied specifically for victims who experience case attrition at early stages. By proactively contacting victims following their initial report, the call-back may offer reassurance and lead to improved levels of satisfaction. We tested this approach with 1326 victims of vehicle and bicycle crimes in a block randomized controlled trial in London, UK. Based on follow-up telephone surveys, the findings suggest that a reassurance call-back policy increases the satisfaction of bicycle theft victims by 5%–15%, but not for victims of vehicle theft, who are largely unaffected by the call-back. The findings are likely driven by the victims’ expectations: vehicle theft victims expect their reported cases to progress through the justice system, whereas bicycle theft victims do not; thus, the former remain as disappointed as the participants who did not receive a call-back. These findings are promising, as they offer a new tool for policing that can provide more care to victims of crime. </jats:p>


Peer reviewed: True


call-back, reassurance, policing, victims, expectations, randomized controlled trial, police satisfaction

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Police Quarterly

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SAGE Publications