The Victims of Crime

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What is a Victim?

The UN define victims as;

'those who have suffered harm (mental, physical or emotional) economic loss, impairment of basic rights through acts of ommissions that violate the laws of the state'

Cristie (1986)

the victim is socially constructed

the stereotype of the 'ideal victim' is a weak, innocent and blameless individual

it is important to study victims as the play an essential role in the criminal justice system e.g. providing evidence 

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Positivist Victimology

Miers (1989)

  • identify the factors that produce patterns in victimisation
  • focuses on interpersonal crimes of violence
  • aims to identify victims who have contributed to their own victimisation
  • victim proneness is the social and psychological characteristics that make victims different to the general population

Hentig (1948)

  • identifies 13 characteristics of a victim
  • female, elderly, mentally abormal ect.
  • victims intiate victimsation

Wolfgang (1958)

  • 26% of homicides include victim precipitation, the victim triggering the events leading to the homicide
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Positivist Victimology Evaluation

- shows the importance of victim offender relationships

- identifies patterns of interpersonal victimisation

- ignores wider structural factors

- is heavily victim  blaming and can revictimise people

- ignores situations where people are unaware of their victimisation 

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Critical Victimology

Conflict theories like Marxism and Feminism use critical victimology

it suggests structural factors such as patriarchy and poverty are structural reasons for why people become victims

Tombs and Whyte (2007)

  • health and safety crimes are blamed on clumsy workers and not on the poor health and safety of the work place
  • this is the ideological function of 'failure to label'
  • this hides the crimes of the powerful and denies the powerless victim any compensation


  • discards the role victims may play in bringing about their own victimisation
  • valuable in drawing attention to the creation of harm status 
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Patterns of Victimisation

Class - poorest groups are more likely to be victimised, crime rates are highest in ares of high unemployment and deprivation

Age - younger people are more at risk, those under 1 most likely to be murdered

Ethnicity - minority ethnic groups are at greater risk

Gender - males at greater risk of violent crime, women of domestic or sexual violence, stalking, harrasment, people trafficking and mass ****

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Impact of Victimisation

  • serious emotional and physical impact 
  • indirect victims such as friends and family 
  • 'waves of harm'
  • secondary victimisation by the police
  • fear of further repeat vicitimisation 
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