Victimology: Victimisation and Victims' Rights

Victimology: Victimisation and Victims' Rights

Victimology: Victimisation and Victims' Rights

Victimology: Victimisation and Victims' Rights


How should the needs of victims of crime be met by the criminal justice system? Have the rights of victims been neglected in order to ensure that a defendant is brought to 'justice'? Who are the victims of crime and why are they targeted?

This new book examines the theoretical arguments concerning victimization before examining who victims actually are and the measures taken by the criminal justice system to enhance their position. Particular attention is paid to the victimization of women, LGBT persons, minority ethnic persons and the elderly. The book engages in a detailed exposition of the law's response to such victimization, focusing on the measures adopted in international human rights law, by the Council of Europe, and in English law and policy. It also assesses alternative models of victim participation in criminal proceedings in European jurisdictions such as Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Adopting an interdisciplinary approach which encompasses law, criminology and social policy, the book is ideal for undergraduates taking an option in victimology, race and crime, or gender and crime, whatever their disciplinary background.


The status of victims of crime has altered significantly in the last century. The study of victims has moved from the margins of criminological theory to the discipline of victimology. Crime surveys have extended their remit to include information concerning victims’ experiences of the impact of crime and the responses of criminal justice agencies. The role of victims in the criminal justice system has also been reconsidered, as victims have become ‘key player[s]’ rather than ‘forgotten actor[s]’ in the criminal process (Zedner, 2002, p. 419).

The purpose of this book is to evaluate these changes in the role of victims in the fields of victimology, victimisation studies, and law and criminal justice policy, and to highlight areas in which further changes ought to be considered. This chapter presents a brief timeline of the key developments in the UK that mark the movement of victims from margin to centre. In addition, it provides an overview of the contents of the various chapters of the book.

Key developments in victimology,
policy and practice

Victims of crime began to receive academic attention after the Second World War with the emergence of the sub-discipline of victimology (Mawby and Walklate, 1994, pp. 69–70; see Chapter 2). This theoretical interest in victims was matched at the policy level by a welfarist focus on the government’s responsibility to provide citizens with protection from ‘disease, squalor, and ignorance, idleness, and want’ (Mawby and Walklate, 1994, p. 70). This notion of government responsibility was based on the assumption that, as citizens are parties to an implied social contract, they are entitled to insurance against such conditions (Mawby and Walklate, 1994, pp. 70–1). These welfarist principles informed the recommendations for victim compensation made by Margery Fry, one of the leading social welfare reformers of the 1950s. On the basis of the principles of collective responsibility and collective social insurance, she contended that the state had a duty to compensate victims for injuries consequent upon crime (Dignan, 2005, p. 43).

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS), which was established . . .

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