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VICTIMS & OFFENDERS
WHO IS A VICTIM?
• The concept of a victim is foreign to civil law,
which speaks instead in terms of people who
have been injured or wronged.
• The word victim denotes someone who has been
harmed through the kind of activity proscribed
by the criminal law.
• The term "crime victim" generally refers to any
person or group who has suffered injury or loss
due to illegal activity
• The harm can be physical, psychological, or
economic
Becoming a Victim?
• General risks of victimization disguise the
greater 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 rarely
experience a crime.
▫ Lifestyle may affect the likelihood of victimization
Nature of Victimization
• Social Ecology
▫ Violent crime more likely to take place in public, open
area – park, street, school, bar
▫ Time of day – between 6pm to 6am
▫ Urban areas
Important Victim Characteristics
• Gender
• Age
• Social status
• Marital status
• Race and Ethnicity
• Repeat victimization
Victim Characteristics
• Gender
▫ Males are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes
(robbery/assault)
 Except for rape or sexual assault
▫ Two thirds of women are victimized by someone they know or live
with
 Half of male victims are attacked by someone they know
▫ With the increase in gender equality, women’s victimization rates
are as well

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Victims and offenders

  • 2. WHO IS A VICTIM? • The concept of a victim is foreign to civil law, which speaks instead in terms of people who have been injured or wronged. • The word victim denotes someone who has been harmed through the kind of activity proscribed by the criminal law. • The term "crime victim" generally refers to any person or group who has suffered injury or loss due to illegal activity • The harm can be physical, psychological, or economic
  • 3. Becoming a Victim? • General risks of victimization disguise the greater 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 rarely experience a crime. ▫ Lifestyle may affect the likelihood of victimization
  • 4. Nature of Victimization • Social Ecology ▫ Violent crime more likely to take place in public, open area – park, street, school, bar ▫ Time of day – between 6pm to 6am ▫ Urban areas
  • 5. Important Victim Characteristics • Gender • Age • Social status • Marital status • Race and Ethnicity • Repeat victimization
  • 6. Victim Characteristics • Gender ▫ Males are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes (robbery/assault)  Except for rape or sexual assault ▫ Two thirds of women are victimized by someone they know or live with  Half of male victims are attacked by someone they know ▫ With the increase in gender equality, women’s victimization rates are as well
  • 7. • Age ▫ Victim risk decreases at age 25 ▫ Elderly only make up 1% of the victim population (teens 16-19 suffer 50 personal victimizations per 1,000; 65+ 2 per 1,000) ▫ More vulnerable to frauds and scams, purse snatching, stealing checks from mail, attractive financial targets ▫ Elder Abuse • Social Status ▫ Wealthy more susceptible to personal theft ▫ Across all gender, age, and racial groups, the poorest are the most likely victims of violent and property crime ▫ The homeless have very high rates of assault victimization
  • 8. • Marital Status ▫ Single people more likely to be victims ▫ Widowers lowest victimization risk ▫ Also influenced by age, gender, and lifestyle  Young people who have the highest victimization rate are too young to have ever been married  Young, single people go out to public places more, and are more likely to interact with high-risk peers  Widowers older, interact with older people, and are more likely to stay at home at night
  • 9. • Race & Ethnicity ▫ Minority groups are more likely to be victims • Due to income inequality, many racial and ethnic minorities live in deteriorated urban areas with high rates of violence • Repeat Victimization • Individuals who have been crime victims have a significantly higher chance of future victimization than non-victims
  • 10. Becoming a Victim? • Risk factors for acquaintance violence: ▫ Youth aged between 16-29 years ▫ Unmarried ▫ Having children below 12 years ▫ Living in an area where the rate of incivilities are high • Risk factors for stranger violence: ▫ Rates differ for men and women  Men  Age  Lifestyle  Women  Area of residence  Marital status
  • 11. Becoming a Victim? • National crime victimization surveys indicate almost every American 12 and older will one day become a victim of a common-law crime such as larceny or burglary. • > 75% of the general public has been victimized at least once; as many as 25% develop post traumatic stress syndrome and their symptoms last more than a decade after the crime occurred
  • 12. Victims and their Criminals • Men are more likely to be violently victimized by a stranger, and women by a known person • Most crimes are committed by a single offender over the age of 20 • Crime is usually intra-racial • Substance abuse is involved in about one third of violent crime incidents
  • 13. Minorities and Victimization • According to the BCS, Afro-carribeans and Asians suffer more victimization than whites. • Maybe explained partly by locational and demographic differences between, Afro- carribeans, Asians and Whites • Afro-carribeans and Asians are more likely than whites: ▫ To live in the highest crime risk inner city areas ▫ To be more transient and less residentially stable ▫ To have lower household incomes ▫ To have larger proportions of youth ▫ To have higher rates of unemployment
  • 14. Minorities and Victimization • Crime is more often intra-racial than it is inter- racial • Most telling factor in racial victimization is institutional racism. ▫ Rodney King incident ▫ Stephen Lawrence incident • Institutional racism leads to a flagrant disregard for the rights and needs of racial/ethnic minorities and a failure to protect them and an official victimization of minorities.
  • 15. Minorities and Victimization • African Americans more likely to be victims of violent crime than European Americans • Minorities experience income inequality in greater number than European Americans
  • 16. Victimization Theories 1. Victim Precipitation 2. Life Style 3. RAT 4. Deviant Place Theory
  • 17. Victimization Theories • What makes someone a victim? • Victim as agent provocateur • Victim characteristics contribute to victimization • Situational context • Spatial characteristics • Can we decrease our chances of being victimized?
  • 18. Victim Precipitation • The degree to which victim is responsible for own victimization • Victim was “the first to slap, punch, stab..” • The prevalence of victim precipitation in murder and assault is contrary to the popular image victims as totally innocent • Interpersonal dispute is a dominant characteristic of many homicides • Five stages of escalation for typical homicide • 1. Victim makes a direct offensive verbal attack against the offender (40 % of victims initiate the homicide drama by verbal threat)
  • 19. Victim Precipitation • 2. The offender interprets the victim’s words and deeds as offensive • 3. The offender makes the opening to “pay back” the victim for the previous insult • 4. The eventual victim “stands up” to the offender’s opening, responding with increased hostility • 5. Commitment to battles ensues, the victim is left dead or dying (35% of offenders carry gun or knives, and nearly 65% leave the crime scene to obtain weapons
  • 20. Passive Precipitation • Occurs when the victim exhibits some personal characteristic that either threaten or encourages the attacker • Related to power • Group of immigrants arriving to the community and compete for job • Love interest, promotion
  • 21. Problems with Victim Precipitation • Creates Culturally Legitimate Victim • Excuses Offenders Behavior
  • 25. Hate Crimes • Vary in seriousness from genocide, ethnic cleansing and serial killing at one end to name calling and harassment at the other. ▫ Consequence - degradation of the individual • Perpetrators of hate crimes see their victim as a type “them” not “us” rather than as individuals with rights and feelings.
  • 26. Hate Crimes • Hate crimes are evident in the following areas of differences: ▫ Racial ▫ Religious ▫ Sexual orientation ▫ Gender ▫ Immigrants/migrants • Much focus is placed on racial hatred and discrimination. • Not all crimes are hate crimes.
  • 27. Lifestyle Theory • Victimization is the function of the victim’s lifestyle • Going out in public places late at night, living in urban areas • High-risk lifestyles: drinking, taking drugs, getting involved in crimes, leaving household for a long time, etc • Variations in lifestyle affect # situations with high victimization risks that an individual may experience ▫ People associate with ▫ Working outside of the home ▫ Leisure activities
  • 28. Lifestyle Theory • Someone who has drug dealer as friend is more likely to be victimized than someone with prosocial friends • Dangerous times: ▫ Nighttime and weekends are the peak times for most violent crimes, property offenses, and public order violations ▫ Darkness is a criminogenic condition (fewer people are around, higher rates of drug and alcohol use, greater anonymity)
  • 29. Lifestyle Theory • Dangerous places: ▫ Dangerousness of particular physical locations changes according to crimes ▫ Victims’ homes (homicide, assault, sexual offenses) ▫ Streets around victim’s homes and deserted areas near parking lots and entertainment establishments (muggers and auto thieves)
  • 31. Routine Activity Theory • “Opportunity makes the thief” • RAT argues that when a crime occurs, three things happen at the same time and in the same space: • 1. a suitable target is available • 2. there is the lack of a suitable guardian to prevent the crime from happening • 3. motivated offender is present
  • 32. A Suitable Target • The first condition for crime is that a suitable target must be available • There are three major categories of target: • a person • an object • a place
  • 33. Potential Targets • Four things make a target suitable to an offender and these use the acronym VIVA: • Value. The offenders value the target for what they gain or value the effect they have on it • Inertia. The size or weight of an item can effect how suitable it is. For example, items such as CDs and watches are suitable targets for shoplifters because they are small and portable. • Visibility. How visible a target is can affect its suitability. For example, items left in view of a window or someone counting money near a cash point machine are visible targets. • Access. If a target is easy to get to, this increases its suitability. So, goods displayed outside shops, or someone walking through a deserted street alone at night are accessible.
  • 34. Absence of a Capable Guardian • A capable guardian is anything, either a person or thing, that discourages crime from taking place • Police patrols, security guards, Neighbourhood Watch schemes, locks, fences, barriers, lighting, alarm systems, vigilant staff and co-workers, friends • A guardian can be present, but ineffective. For example a CCTV camera is not a capable guardian if it is set up or sited wrongly • Staff might be present in a shop, but may not have sufficient training or awareness to be an effective deterrent
  • 35. Likely Offenders • Gain/Need: poverty, to feed a drug habit, greed. • Society/Experience/Environment: living in a culture where crime is acceptable, because of peer pressure, coercion, lack of education, poor employment prospects, envy, as a rebellion against authority. • Beliefs: a belief that crime in general or particular crimes aren’t wrong, as a protest on a matter of principle, prejudice against certain minority/ethnic groups.
  • 39. Deviant Place Theory • Victim prone to victimization because one resides in a socially disorganized high-crime area • The more often victims visit dangerous places, the more likely they will be exposed to crime and violence • Deviant places include: poor densely populated areas, highly transient neighborhoods and commercial areas with residential property in close proximity • William Julius Wilson suggests White residents flee high-crime areas, leaving racial minorities behind to suffer high victimization rates
  • 40. Repeat Victimization Victim (SITTING DUCK) Problems • Repeat victimization - victims repeatedly attacked by different offenders. • SITTING DUCK problems occur when victims continually interact with potential offenders at different places, but the victims do not increase their precautionary measures and their guardians are either absent or ineffective.
  • 42. • What factors predict chronic victimization? ▫ 1. target vulnerability: the victims physical weakness or psychological distress renders them incapable of resisting or deterring crime and makes them easy targets ▫ 2. target gratifiability: some victims have quality, possession, skill or attribute that an offender wants. E.g. a leather coat ▫ 3. target antagonism: some characteristics increase risk because they arouse anger, jealousy, or destructive impulses in potential offenders. E.g. being gay or effeminate may bring undeserved attacks or being argumentative and alcoholic may provoke barroom assaults • Repeat victimization may also occur when a victim doesn’t take defensive action ▫ E.g. abusive husband whose wife won’t call the police
  • 43. The Extent of Repeat Victimization
  • 44. Two Explanations for Repeat Victimization • Boost Explanations – repeat victimization reflects the successful outcome of an initial offense. Specific offenders gain important knowledge about a target from prior experience and use this information to re-offend. • Flag Explanations – some targets are unusually attractive to criminals or particularly vulnerable to crime.
  • 45. Types of Repeat Victimization • True repeat victims • Near victims • Virtual repeats • Chronic victims
  • 46. Where Repeat Victimization Occurs • Repeat victimization is most common in high crime areas. • Persons and places in high crime areas face a greater risk of initial victimization and they may lack the means to block a subsequent victimization. • In high crime areas, crime is so concentrated among repeat victims that recurring offenses can create hot spots - relatively small geographic areas in which victims are clustered.
  • 47. When Repeat Victimization Occurs • Repeat victimization is sometimes most likely to occur very soon after the initial victimization (particularly for financially-based crimes). • For example, studies suggest that the chances of repeated burglary of homes increases in the year following the initial burglary • This may reflect an “insurance effect” whereby the thieves return to steal property that was recently replaced by insurance companies.
  • 48. Linking Repeat Victimization to Other Crime Patterns • Hot spots • Hot products • Repeat Offenders • Crime series • Risky Facilities
  • 49. Special Concerns • Blaming the victim • Increasing fearfulness • Violating privacy of victims • Displacing crime • Unintended consequences