To the editors of Psychology, Crime & Law:
Dr Theresa Gannon – Director of the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology (CORE-FP), Keynes College, University of Kent, UK
Professor Peter van Koppen – Faculty of Law, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
Professor Brian H. Bornstein – Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska, USA
Subject: request for paper retraction
Rijswijk, 8 January 2013
In Psychology, Crime & Law, Volume 17, Issue 6, 2011 you published the paper
We request retraction of this paper because its discussion section contains a major falsehood. Moreover, this falsehood is supposed to be substantiated by 3 pages of statistical analyses, but these do not hold under scrutinization.
In the discussion section, the authors write that it is important to disclose to the public that criminal behaviour of young Moroccans is generally less severe than the criminal behaviour of indigenous young people:
Despite these limitations, the findings presented here point to the fact that Moroccan and native Dutch adolescents have highly distinctive offender profiles, showing that ethnic differences in the nature of crime cannot be ignored in research comparing the development of delinquent behaviour in ethnic minority and majority youths.
Moreover, the finding that Moroccan adolescents are far more often incarcerated for property offences than Dutch native adolescents, which could be seen as a relatively less serious type of crime, is of societal importance. Firstly, for the public opinion on crime in ethnic minority groups, it is important to make known that although Moroccan adolescents are more often incarcerated than Dutch native adolescents, their criminal behaviour overall is less serious than the criminal behaviour of Dutch native youths.
(Boldface marking by us)
However, the reported study does not refer to criminal behaviour of ethnic groups in society, which would be relevant for the public opinion of crime. Instead the authors have studied a population of detained persons.
As one may conclude from the raw data presented in the study, the Moroccan adolescents are about 5 times as prone to official criminal reporting as Dutch adolescents. With this factor 5 it appears that Moroccan adolescents are 9 times as prone to less serious crime, and still 1.5 to 2 times as prone to more serious crime (violence and sexual offence), than Dutch adolescents. As 1.5 and 2 are small numbers as compared to 9, this leads to a smaller portion of the observed Moroccan population that is detained for serious crime. The authors translate this to their criminal behaviour overall is less serious. The opposite is true.
Note that with the author’s analysis method the group of Moroccan adolescents appears less prone to serious crime than Dutch adolescents, only due to the fact the Moroccan group is so very much more prone to less serious crime. Better behaviour through less theft and robbery would automatically result in a higher score for serious crime.
The authors even fill three pages with statistical analyses that are bogus. It makes no sense to correlate criminal behaviour of detainees with their ethnicity; it is in no way of societal importance for the public opinion on crime in ethnic minority groups, as for the public the behaviour in society counts.
In 2009 the authors except Dorelijers published a report named “Marokkaanse jeugddelinquenten: een klasse apart?” (“Moroccan youth offenders: a class apart?“).
As they correctly stated therein, chapter 2 of this report was an adaptation of the article in Psychology, Crime & Law. This report has been criticized as well; we refer to an overview article at our web site: http://www.keizersenkleren.nl/?p=259.
It is a disgrace that this paper has passed peer review, which is said to be “rigorous”. We request that you officially retract it, and that you publish this letter in your journal.
|A.J.E. van Delft