- Report Published -
|Accuracy of Local Arrest Reports on Runaway Juveniles|
|Department of State Police|
|SJR 378 (Regular Session, 1999)|
|SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 378 directed the State Police to study the reporting of runaway juveniles to the State Police Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) section. In accordance with the Joint Resolution, the problem was analyzed and a study conducted. Surveys were sent to all Virginia local law enforcement and specialized state enforcement agencies asking if and how they documented and reported the handling and apprehension of runaway juveniles.|
Of the 276 agencies surveyed, 175 (63 percent), responded. This included 35 independent cities (88 percent of all cities), 72 counties (77 percent of all counties), and 54 towns (48 percent of all towns). The responding county, town, and independent city law enforcement agencies represent 83 percent of the population of Virginia.
Pertinent sections of Titles 16.1, Courts Not of Record; 19.2, Criminal Procedure; and 52, Police (State), of the Code of Virginia were reviewed and found to contain no references to the reporting of runaway juveniles. However, the authority for determining the format and content of the UCR/IBR reports is delegated to the Superintendent of State Police, pursuant to Title 52, Chapter 6, § 52-29, of the Code.
The survey data showed that 94 percent of responding agencies were documenting the apprehension and taking into custody of runaway juveniles, but only 78 percent were reporting this activity to UCR. Of the population represented by the responding jurisdictions, only 61 percent (51 percent of total Virginia population) is served by agencies reporting runaways to UCR/IBR. Analysis of comments on survey questionnaires further revealed that the percentage of agencies reporting to UCR may be lower because of confusion about what constitutes reporting and to whom the reporting should be made.
The issue of identifying the habitual runaway came up during the course of the study. This issue was felt to need additional analysis after the changes recommended in this report are implemented and have time to take effect. As habitual runaways require the intervention of criminal justice practitioners other than law enforcement, an additional interdisciplinary study may be indicated in future years.
Three recommendations were made:
(1) Revise instructions in the UCR Incident-Based Reporting (IBR) Guide Manual (issued by the State Police) to simplify and consolidate the instructions for reporting runaways;
(2) Provide publicity of this revision to the manual through articles in the newsletter of the State Police Criminal Justice Information Services Division, in letters to local law enforcement agencies, and in supervisory briefings at local agencies; and
(3) After the recommendations to improve reporting the apprehension of runaway juveniles have been implemented and several years of base-line data have been accumulated, reexamine the issue of the habitual runaway to determine if more needs to be done from a multidisciplinary approach.