The Study Of Victims Of Crime.

1291 words - 5 pages

Victims of crimeThe victims experience of crime30 years ago it would have been difficult to have found any criminological agency (official, professional, voluntary or other) or research group working in the field of victims of crime, or which considered crime victims as having any central relevance to the subject apart from being a sad product of the activity under study - criminality. To officials, the victim was merely a witness in the court case, to researchers either the victim was totally ignored or was used as a source of information about crime and criminals. Until very recently there was a striking lack of information about victims, and even now the knowledge is sketchy, limited to certain crimes and often to certain types of victim.In Britain, and much of the rest of Europe, most of the focus has been on providing practical services to victims rather than on addressing their rights in a criminal justice or legalistic way (although the Human Rights Act 1998 might change this in future). Much of the work so far has been done by VSS (Victims Support Schemes), which started in 1974 in Bristol to fill a gap in provision for those involved with crime. It was started by the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, on the assumption that victims too had needs which were not being met.These needs soon became very apparent and the VSS grew very quickly. Almost all of it's work is done by volunteers, but as the numbers of serious cases needing long-term support grows it is being forced towards professionalism VSS has largely avoided any political arguments on the position of victims in the British system. Other important victim agencies in Britain are the Rape Crisis Centres (RCC) and shelter homes or refuges. These deal with survivors of sexual abuse and violence perpetrated against women.They provide them with three types of support; advice and information, help in resolving practical difficulties; and emotional support in helping to deal with the offence. Each of these, although taking a fairly strong political view on the reason for the problem, has so far played a small and secondary role in altering the position of victims in our system. The victim services in Britain have not really formed themselves into a general lobby to argue for an increase in victim's rights. Rather, each works separately and concentrates on dealing with immediate, practical and emotional needs as they arise. Similarly, the 1990 Home Office booklet entitled "Victim's Charter" is only a statement of what should be good practice on the part of the criminal justice organisations; it does not give the victim any legal rights.The general risks of victimisation disguise the greater real risks for some groups. Individuals within certain groups may fall victim to many offences in a year whereas others in different subgroups may never, or only very rarely, experience a crime. Furthermore, Gottfredson (1984) points out that a person's lifestyle may affect...

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