Public and Crime: Fear of Crime (Victims)


Ainsworth 2000

stages in the process of crime:

- will the victim notice the crime? (cyber crime)

- will the victim report the crime? (****)

- will the police record the crime? (stalking)

- will the offender be caught by the police? (card fraud)

- will the offender be prosecuted? (****)

-will the perpetrator be found guilty? (****)

- will the perpetrator receive a sentence? (stalking)

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Attitudes Towards Crime

  • crime is a public issue, and public opinion has influence over the criminal justice system
  • public's concern over crime must be understood as it influences how justice is delivered
  • process from crime being committed to the punishment of the offender is complex
  • Ainsworth 2000 stages in the process of crime
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Public Knowledge of Crime

-          Public perception of crime rates is often inaccurate

-          Howitt 1992 says it’s unrealistic to expect the public to have an accurate perception of the crime rates

-          Doherty 1990 says it’s more important for the public to be aware of the extent society is become more criminal

-          Generally a decrease in crime levels in the UK over time, however there has been an increase in particular areas of crimes

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Fear of Crime

-          Public’s fear of becoming a victim of a crime in different ways – Dijt et Al 2007

-           Fear of crime can be an important political concept

-          Governments actively attempt to influence the fear

-          The less fear the public show, the better job the government is doing (e.g Donald Trump)

-          British Crime Survey 2003 if people believe there’s an increase in crime they’re more likely to be               fearful of it

-          Fear of crime can be influenced by direct knowledge of the crimes in the immediate community,               mass media reports of crimes, and effects from an individual’s past in terms of personality and                   social characteristics (Bazargan 1994)

-          “Fear Victimisation Paradox” (Clark 2004)

-          No clear relationship between fear of crime and victimisation rates

-          Most likely victims of crime are young males overall, men are more at risk of attack by a stranger             although women are more fearful of this, and women are more likely to be attacked by an                         individual they know prior

-          The extent to fear of crime being a significant feature in people’s lives is actually quite low                         (Farrall and Gadd 2004)

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Theories of Fear of Crime

-          Cultivation Theory Gerbner 1972

-          Assumption that mass media, TV mainly, are forms of cultural transmission and affect the fear of crime

-          Relationship between heavy viewing of media and having a distorted / influenced view of crime and violence is statistically weak (Ditton et Al 2004)

-          Findings haven’t been replicated in other communities (Gunter 1987)

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Theories of Fear of Crime

-          Availability Heuristic Theory Shrum 1996

-          Certain situations trigger memories, not necessarily personal but even memories of things you see on TV (crossover with cultivation theory)

-          Extent to which the media (or other factors) create vivid images and ideas of crimes in people’s minds that influence the fear of crime and the behaviour of those who do watch these things

-          Findings supported by Vitelli and Endler 1993

-          Political propaganda can be influential

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Theories of Fear of Crime

-          Cognitive Theory Winkel 1998

-          Fear is hypothesised to be a product of risk times seriousness

-          Subjective Victimisation = belief surrounding the likelihood or risk of becoming a victim

-          Perceived Negative Impact  = belief surrounding the seriousness of the consequences of crime

-          Victim of crime, coping mechanisms arise, either become at subjective risk of future victimisation leading to the fear of crime remaining the same, or the negative impact decreases due to coping processes  but fear of crime still remains unchanged

-          Evidence to support Winkell 1998 was tested with a variety of victims of crime

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Victims of Crime

-          Increasing importance of victims in Criminal Justice System

-          UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power 1985

-          Sympathetic treatment of **** victims and child witnesses

-          Victimology, victim offender interface

-          Original focus on victim characteristics which increased likelihood of victimisation but recent focus on how psychology can help victims

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Victims of Crime

-          PTSD – an anxiety problem that develops in some individuals after extremely traumatic events, e.g combat, crime, accident or natural disaster APA 2000

-          PTSD DSM V

-          Stressor (death, threat of death, actual or threatened serious injury, sexual violence: direct exposure, witnessing in person, indirect exposure, repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details

-          Intrusion symptoms: recurrent, repetitive intrusive memories, nightmares, dissociative reactions, intense prolonged distress, marked physiological reactions

-          Avoidance: trauma related thoughts, feelings or external reminders (scars, etc)

-          Negative alterations in cognitions and mood: dissociative amnesia, persistent negative beliefs and expectations of yourself of the external world, persistent self-blame, diminished interest in activities

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Victims of Crime

-          Victims of crime Winkel 2007

-          10 – 15 % , conservative estimate

-          Offenders Collins and Bailey 1990

-          2% suffered before crime

-          Factors in PTSD – Stress Response Theory Horowitz 1986

-          Conditioning Theory Keane et Al 1985

-          Dual Representation Theory Brewin et Al 1996

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Victims of Crime

-          Psychological help for victims: front line support, family, friends, police, volunteers, largely untrained in psychology, victim assistance programmes, or therapeutic interventions, structured trauma writing, cognitive behaviour therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, exposure therapy, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

-          Restorative Justice

-          Victim-offender mediation programmes

-          Conferencing programmes

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