The Victims of Crime

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THE VICTIMS OF CRIME
The UN defines victims as those who have suffered harm through acts or omissions that
violate the laws of the state
Christie (1986)
`Victim' is socially constructed
The stereotype of the `ideal victim' favoured by the media, public and criminal justice
system is a weak, innocent and blameless individual
- Such as a small child or old women
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---POSITIVIST VICTIMOLOGY
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Miers (1989)
Defines positivist criminology as having three features:
- It aims to identify the factors that produce patterns in victimisation, especially those that
make some individuals or groups more likely to be victims
- It focuses on interpersonal crimes of violence
- It aims to identify victims who have contributed to their own victimisation
The earliest positivist studies focused on the idea of victim proneness.
They sought to identify the social and psychological characteristics of victims that make
different from non-victims
Hans Von Hentig (1948)
Identified 13 characteristics of victims
- Such as that they are likely to be females, elderly or `mentally subnormal'
The implication is that the victims in some sense `invite' victimisation by being the kind of
person they are
This can also include lifestyle factors such as victims who ostentatiously display their
wealth
Marvin Wolfgang (1958)
Study of 588 homicides in Philadelphia
Found that 26% involved victim precipitation
- The victim triggered the events leading to the homicide, for instance by being the first to
use violence
- For example, this was often the case where the victim was male and the perpetrator
female
Evaluation

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Brookman (2005)
-Wolfgang shows the importance of the victim-offender relationship
-In many homicides, it is a matter of chance which party becomes the victim
This approach identifies certain patterns of interpersonal victimisation
- BUT it ignores wider structural factors influencing victimisation, such as poverty and
patriarchy
It can easily tip over into victim blaming
- Amir (1971) claims that one in five rapes are victim precipitated is not very different from
saying that the victims `asked for it'
It ignores situations where victims are unaware…read more

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Critical victimology disregards the role victims may play in bringing victimisation on
themselves through their own choices or their own offending
It is valuable in drawing attention the way that `victim' status is constructed by power and
how this benefits the powerful at the expense of the powerless
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PATTERNS OF VICTIMISATION
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Class
The poorest groups are more likely to be victimised
For example, crime rates are typically highest in areas of high unemployment and
deprivation
Newburn and Rock (2006)
- Survey…read more

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Crime may have a serious physical and emotional impacts on its victims
Crime may also create `indirect' victims, such as friends, relatives and crime
Hate crimes against minorities may create `waves of harm' that radiate out to affect others
Secondary Victimisation
The idea that in addition to the impact of the crime itself, individuals may suffer further
victimisation at the hands of the criminal justice system
Feminists argue that rape victims are often so poorly treated by the police and the courts,
it amounts to…read more

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