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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 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 analyzed at three levels and qualitative data were content analyzed. Findings showed more crime (52.2%) was unreported than reported (47.8%). The nature of crime is not significantly related to reporting (*2 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.
1.1 Background of the 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 26058 ammunition 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 general 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?