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Oxford University Press - Online Resource Centres

Hale et al: Criminology 3e

Chapter 22: Chapter synopses

This chapter introduces the academic study of victims (sometimes called Victimology) and the range of political and social changes which have brought victims of crime closer to the top of the agenda of those involved in planning and delivering services in the criminal justice system.

It reflects particularly upon the influence of feminism and other social movements on service provision, policy and legislation. Both in North America and in Europe, changes in the politics of gender, race and disability have impacted upon the ways in which we think about victims of crime. Alongside these social changes, criminology and victim studies have also moved with the times, and the somewhat unhelpful approaches to the study of victims from the 1940s to the 1970s have given way to a more critical and engaged approach.

A number of key terms in the study of victimization are highlighted throughout the chapter. The main body of the chapter is divided into four sections. These are: victimological perspectives, researching victims of crime, the extent and nature of, and risks to criminal victimization and the fourth section is victims, policy and practice. Though there are separate headings for each of these, they interconnect. The development of each victimological perspective noted in section one means that measuring crime and victimization and generating information on the nature and extent of victimization and risks to being victimized and policy issues are not mutually exclusive.

As in other areas of social policy, it is instructive to compare policies between countries, and several aspects of policy and practice in relation to victims of crime are compared. The tendency in some countries to legislate and provide services 'for' victims without consulting them or victims' organisations about their real needs is discussed.