Crime, says van Ness (1986, p3)


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  • Crime, says van Ness (1986, p3),

  • … is not simply an incident which begins a contest between the State and a defendant, between a prosecutor and a [defence counsel]

  • ... Crime is first of all an encounter between a victim and an offender. It is an unexpected personal crisis in the life of one person brought on by another …



Victim surveys show that the attitude of the first police officer with whom a victim first has contact can be a major determinant of victim satisfaction.

  • Victim surveys show that the attitude of the first police officer with whom a victim first has contact can be a major determinant of victim satisfaction.

    • What factors would tend to leave victims dissatisfied with the police?
    • What factors would tend to leave victims satisfied with the police?


Over one half of victims across our world (who completed the international crime survey) said they were unhappy about the way police treat them.

  • Over one half of victims across our world (who completed the international crime survey) said they were unhappy about the way police treat them.

  • Many stated that police "did not do enough" or "did not recover the goods".

  • About 1 in 5 said the police failed to keep them informed about progress in their case.

  • 1 in 5 women victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, responded that police were "incorrect" or "impolite".

  • Victims of personal violence, including domestic violence and rape, were the least satisfied with the police because they felt that the police "did not do enough" or "were not interested".

  • (International Crime Victim Survey 2000)



Approximately one half of the victims who reported a crime were satisfied with the way the police treated their case, although in several countries where levels of satisfaction used to be comparatively high, the rates of satisfaction have decreased.

  • Approximately one half of the victims who reported a crime were satisfied with the way the police treated their case, although in several countries where levels of satisfaction used to be comparatively high, the rates of satisfaction have decreased.

    • This group of countries includes the USA, Canada, England & Wales, Sweden and the Netherlands, which are countries where better treatment of victims is actively promoted.
  • Less than 1 in 10 victims of serious crimes who reported to the police received specialised help.

    • About 4 in 10 of those who did not, expressed a need for support.
    • Victim support agencies provided services to approximately 1 in 5 of victims with expressed needs
  • (International Crime Victim Survey 2005)



  • Those victims who a generally not satisfied with ‘police attitude’ felt the police--

    • “Did not care.”
    • “Made the victim feel ‘responsible for the crime’.”
    • Made the victim feel “a nuisance.”
  • (Gardner 1990, p22)



Safety: Protection from perpetrators and re-victimisation; crime prevention through collaborative problem solving; a restored sense of individual and community safety

  • Safety: Protection from perpetrators and re-victimisation; crime prevention through collaborative problem solving; a restored sense of individual and community safety

  • Access: Ability to participate in the justice system process and obtain information and services, regardless of individual or family circumstances

  • Information: Verbal and written information about justice system processes and victim services that is clear, concise, and user friendly

  • Support: Services and assistance to enable participation in justice processes, recovery from trauma, and repair of harm caused by crime

  • Continuity: Consistency in approaches and methods across agencies; continuity of support through all stages of the justice process and trauma recovery

  • Voice: Empowerment to speak out about processing of individual cases; opportunities to influence agency and system-wide policies and practices

  • (International Association of Chiefs of Police 1999, p8)



Many victims of crime rely on the police for ‘immediate crisis care’.

  • Many victims of crime rely on the police for ‘immediate crisis care’.

  • Crisis care is not the only reason victims report crime to the police.

    • Others reasons include—
      • A desire to retrieve property
      • A moral obligation
      • An insurance requirement
      • To stop re-occurrence (prevent repeat victimisation)
      • A desire for the offender to be arrested
      • Fear of harm


  • What is crisis intervention?

  • “An active but temporary entry into the life situation of an individual, family or group during a period of stress”

  • (New Zealand Police 1997, p27)



Crisis intervention

  • Crisis intervention

  • Important things to remember about trauma—

    • Many reactions are natural and normal
    • Victims should be allowed to express their feelings
    • Recovery for some victims can be a long-term process
  • People (victims) are less likely to cope if—

    • The incident / event is particularly traumatic or life-threatening
    • The individual has poor coping strategies and inner resources and/or a history of mental health problems
    • There is a lack of support during and shortly after
    • Little or no help is offered later


  • Crisis intervention - four main tasks are—

    • To help people (victims) to accept the reality of their experience(s) and to counteract the ‘defence’ of denial
    • To encourage people (victims) to feel the pain and to provide reassurance of the normality of their reactions
    • To help people (victims) adjust and adapt to the changes that have taken place in their lives
    • To help people (victims) re-direct their emotions and their lives so that they can move to acceptance and healing


Consequences of saying / doing the wrong thing include—

  • Consequences of saying / doing the wrong thing include—

    • The victim, perhaps feeling vulnerable and looking for advice, accepts what is said by the helper (for example, a police officer) and keeps any feelings under control by repressing them and believes that it is wrong to express his/her emotions
    • The victim becomes even angrier, and upset and directs this at the helper (for example, a police officer)
    • The victim becomes very angry, but only after the helper (for example, a police officer) has left and so feels more frustrated, guilty and isolated
    • The victim silently rejects the helper (for example, a police officer) and will put up barriers whenever he/she calls


Police as ‘crisis interveners’ should:

  • Police as ‘crisis interveners’ should:

    • Shield victims by attending to victims’ safety and security needs (including immediate medical needs)
    • Assist victims mobilise their support resources (for example, family, acquaintances
    • Help victims to begin to reorganise and / or reassert some control over their lives
    • Encourage victims to express and validate their feelings (which could, for example, include denial, guilt, anger, and grief)


Police as ‘crisis interveners’ should:

  • Police as ‘crisis interveners’ should:

    • Not blame the victim for the victimisation
    • Give victims practical advice such as information on making repairs, crime prevention and dealing with insurance requirements
    • Give victims information on the criminal justice system and victim-assistance (for example, services to help them cope)


  • Police as ‘crisis interveners’ should say —

  • “I am sorry this happened to you.”

  • “You are safe now.”

  • “You are not to blame.”

  • (Australian Commissioners of Police 1988)



In addition to crisis intervention, what else do victims desire?

  • In addition to crisis intervention, what else do victims desire?

    • Victims’ desire for involvement by various stages in CJ process (Gardner 1990)
          • No Involvement Informed Consulted Actively
    • Involved
    • Interview Suspects 36.6 45.8 4.7 12.9
    • Deciding on Charges 21.7 50.5 23.5 4.3
    • Bail Decision 41.3 34.8 17.6 6.2
    • Attend Court
    • Not as Witness 38.5 21.8 0.6 39.1


In addition to crisis intervention, what else do victims desire?

  • In addition to crisis intervention, what else do victims desire?

    • What would did victims want?
      • More information about preventing victimisation, victim support, victims’ legal rights / legal position, progress of investigation & prosecution, and ways to obtain compensation.
  • (Review on Victims of Crime 2000)



As one victim said after the prosecution for a sexual assault failed to attain a conviction at trial,

  • As one victim said after the prosecution for a sexual assault failed to attain a conviction at trial,

  • I don’t regret reporting, I just regret the outcome … I’m glad I did it; I had to do it for myself. What’s important is the quality of support, having enough information about the process, understanding your options …”



Putting the needs of victims of crime at the centre

  • Putting the needs of victims of crime at the centre

    • Victims’ rights are not rights, rather they are principles governing treatment of victims of crime and therefore do not necessarily guarantee meaningful and appropriate improvements.
    • The focus on victim assistance in policing has the potential to legitimise the crime fighter law enforcement paradigm that will ultimately do little to advance victim-justice.
    • There is a risk that victims could be ‘locked’ into a conservative retributive justice.
    • (Eijkman 1994, pp281-83)


Putting the needs of victims of crime at the centre

  • Putting the needs of victims of crime at the centre

    • Victims expect to be supported by the Police and often want help in restoring their personal freedom or autonomy
    • Police operating in a ‘crime fighter paradigm that has a strict law enforcement emphasis tend to relegate victim support to the realm of welfare and social work; thus, not ‘real’ police work
    • Crime control (law enforcement) is only one function of modern policing


Putting the needs of victims of crime at the centre

  • Putting the needs of victims of crime at the centre

  • Crime Fighter - Consequences for victims of crime:

    • Exacerbates (increases) fear of crime while at the same time detracts from (or de-values) police work that is not focused on crime fighting / crime control
    • Encourages, even legitimises, inappropriate behaviour and ‘insularity’
    • Links measures of police performance almost exclusively to crime control, yet the Police have little influence over the ‘causes’ of crime
    • Failing to control crime reflects badly on the public perception of the effectiveness of the Police


Putting the needs of victims of crime at the centre

  • Putting the needs of victims of crime at the centre

  • ‘Community oriented’ Service Provider :

    • Complements the public (and victims’) perception that the Police is a valued community resource
    • Accepts that the Police function far wider than crime control, even crime prevention, to include victim assistance and alleviating fear of crime
    • Encourages open, consultative and co-operative relationships
    • Embraces a problem-solving ethos that complements non-confrontational elements in policing a civil society


Putting the needs of victims of crime at the centre

  • Putting the needs of victims of crime at the centre

  • Community Oriented Policing - Consequences for victims of crime:

    • Help with victim restoration
    • Focus on preventing victimisation
    • Alleviates fear of crime
    • Victim empowerment and community empowerment
    • Aim to attain justice for marginalised people
    • Recognition of victims’ rights and the obligations for the Police


Four approaches:

  • Four approaches:

  • Crisis intervention -- Immediate intervention in crisis situations, with a focus on victims of violence especially interpersonal & family disputes. Timely responses in addition to assessment, referral & counselling. Police officers provide 24-hour / 7-day service.

  • Information / Referral – As well as crisis intervention, this approach incorporates information & referral. Information may cover progress of investigation, prosecution & court outcome; may also involve ways to identify victim-clients for referral to a broad range of services. Police and non-police provide service usually during business hours.

  • Comprehensive – combines both approaches.

  • Generalist – Aim to up-skill police officers and other staff through training on victims needs etc to improve the quality of service offered to all crime victims. Intention is to change the behaviour of police staff.

  • (Muir 1986)



-- Principles Governing Treatment of Victims of Crime --

    • -- Principles Governing Treatment of Victims of Crime --
      • To treat with respect & dignity
      • To information on health & welfare services
      • To information about the progress of investigations;
      • To have their perceived safety concerns taken into account before suspects are released on bail;
      • To be consulted about charge withdrawals and charge bargains;
      • To participate (usually by impact statements) in sentencing of both competent and mentally incompetent offenders.


Victim support is a primary ‘performance outcome’ in Police department corporate plan

  • Victim support is a primary ‘performance outcome’ in Police department corporate plan

  • Inter-agency co-operation has been developed Victim-letter notification

    • Administrative
    • Agreement
  • Police training and education programs have been introduced (covering victims’ needs, communication & inter-personal skills)

  • Victims of Crime branches / sections have been created

    • Victim Contact Officers / Victim Liaison Officers
    • Victim Management Section
  • Partnerships with victim support services (non-government)

    • “[there is a need for] reciprocal police and victim support operational and service plans.” (Victim Support Australasia 1998)




Information for Victims of Crime

  • Information for Victims of Crime

    • English
    • Translations
    • Braille
    • Audio
    • Soft Copy
  • Link to Commissioner for Victims’ Rights web site - www.voc.sa.gov.au

  • Victim Impact Statement pamphlet with forms

  • Application Form

    • Grief & Funeral Expenses
    • Registration on Victim Register


  • Development of a services map





Enhancing compliance:

  • Enhancing compliance:

    • Victim-letter notification
      • Name of accused
      • First court date & court particulars
      • Reminder of right to make a VIS


The conditions of ‘victim-hood’—

  • The conditions of ‘victim-hood’—

    • A person has suffered a loss or some significant decrease in well-being unfairly or undeservedly and in such a manner that he/she was helpless to prevent the loss;
    • The loss has an identifiable source; and
    • The legal or moral context of the loss entitles the person who suffers the loss to social concern.
    • (Bayley 1991)
    • Sparkes’ victim-proneness (1983) —


  • “[Police as victims require] sensitive handling, caring, and support as do other victims.”

  • (Reiser & Geiger 1985, p20)



Police deviance is linked to perceptions about the role of police (Van Maanen 1983).

  • Police deviance is linked to perceptions about the role of police (Van Maanen 1983).

  • Police who see their role as primarily crime fighting have a greater tendency to use force and greater distrust of the public than police who see their role as peace-keepers or service providers (Schaeffer 1978)

  • There is a relationship between police marginalisation, police illegalities and rising crime rates. A lack of public (including support from victims) instils a perceived need among police to resort to improper and illegal practices to control crime. (Lea & Young 1985)



Victimisation by Police in Latin-America (Neuman 1994) – Death Squadrons

  • Victimisation by Police in Latin-America (Neuman 1994) – Death Squadrons

    • Neuman (1994, p335) acknowledges the complexities of policing but highlights the difficulties that arise if “the police is far away from the people”.
    • He notes that “bad police” too often associate with criminals resulting in police sanctioned extortion and kidnapping.
    • He identifies some police as torturers and the death squads that target homeless children.


Victims of crime are KEY people in the criminal justice system, yet the people in the system (for example, the police) can alienate victims and add to the crisis of experience of the actual victimisation.

  • Victims of crime are KEY people in the criminal justice system, yet the people in the system (for example, the police) can alienate victims and add to the crisis of experience of the actual victimisation.

  • “… [there is] a need for sensitivity, caution, and flexibility in designing any programs for victims.” (Gardner 1990, p25)

  • “Policing is perhaps one of the most potentially productive … sources of improved services for victims.” (McCormick 1988, p28)



One of the principle objects of penal victimology is to attain equal justice for the victim and the offender.

  • One of the principle objects of penal victimology is to attain equal justice for the victim and the offender.

  • Denying fundamental rights to people accused of crime is not the way to improve the victim’s status in the criminal justice system.

  • The ideal of a civil, helping police service is mysterious, even unknown, to some peoples in our world.

    • In Australia, for example, some immigrants may have come from places where the Police treat women indifferently, even heartlessly, and condemn women for claiming to be victims of domestic violence.
    • Refugees may have fled violent political upheaval to escape political crimes.


If police,

  • If police,

  • the justice system

  • and communities

  • can offer victims of crime

  • safety, access, information,

  • support, continuity and voice

  • -– justice will result.

  • (International Association of Chiefs of Police 1999)



Australian Bureau of Statistics (1986) 1983 - Victims of Crime, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia.

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (1986) 1983 - Victims of Crime, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia.

  • Australian Police Union (1995) ‘New Zealand Police Association Launches a National Victims Support Organisation’, Journal of the Australian Police Union.

  • Bayley, J.E. (1991) ‘The Concept of Victimhood’, in D. Sank & D.I. Caplan (eds) To Be a Victim: Encounters with Crime and Justice, Insight Books: New York, pp.53-62.

  • Bard, M. & Sangrey, D. (1979) The Crime Victim’s Book, Basic Books: New York.

  • Bird, I. (1994) The Relationship between Community Policing and Victims in New Zealand, a paper presented at the Community Policing Workshop, 8th International Symposium on Victimology, 23 August, Adelaide.

  • Bradley, D. (1994) Victim, Community, and the State: Reflections on the Prospects and Limits of Police Reform with Regard to the Prevention of Victimisation and the Restoration of Victims, a paper presented at the Community Policing Workshop, 8th International Symposium on Victimology, 23 August, Adelaide.

  • Clifford, W. (1982) ‘Policing a Democracy’, Australian Crime Prevention Council Quarterly Journal, 5(4), September-October, pp.1-9.

  • Department of Justice (1990) Victim Impact Statements in Canada: Volume 7, Department of Justice, Canada.

  • Dussich, J (2003) Police & Victims, paper presented to the Victimology & Victim Assistance Course, Stellenbosch, Sth Africa; World Society of Victimology

  • Eijkman, H. (1994) ‘Police, Victims and Democracy: Rewriting the priorities’, in P. Moir & H. Eijkman (eds) Policing Australia: Old Issues, New Perspectives, MacMillan: Sydney, pp.266-298.

  • Elias, R. (1983) Victims of the System: Crime victims and compensation in American politics and criminal justice, Transaction Books: New Brunswick, NJ.

  • Erez, E., Roeger, L. & Morgan, F. (1994) Victim Impact Statements in South Australia: An evaluation, Attorney-General’s Department, Research Report, Series C, No.6, South Australia.

  • Everett, J. (1987) ‘Victim Services promoted in Austin’, Law and Order, December, pp.43-46.

  • Gamire, B.L. (ed) (1982) Local Government, Police Management, International City Management Association: USA.

  • Gardner, J. (1989) Victims’ Satisfaction with the Criminal Justice System, a paper presented at the 5th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, July.

  • Gardner, J. (1990) Victims and Criminal Justice, Attorney-General’s Department, Research Report, Series C, South Australia.

  • Greenberg, M.S. & Ruback, R.B. (1992) After the crime: Victim decision making, Plenum Press, USA.

  • Hunt, D. (1987) ‘Victims of Crime: Towards a Preventative Approach’, NPRU Review, 3(1), pp.5-18.

  • Hunt, D. (1991) ‘Welcoming Address’, Journal of the Australasian Society of Victimology, Special Edition, April, pp.3-4.

  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (1999) What do victims want? On line: http://www.theiacp.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=9eQ30BjqFCg%3d&tabid=87



Lea, J. & Young, J. (1983) What is to be done about Law and Order?, Penguin: London.

  • Lea, J. & Young, J. (1983) What is to be done about Law and Order?, Penguin: London.

  • Legal & Constitutional Committee (1987) Report upon Support Services for Victims of Crime, Parliament of Victoria, Government Printer: Victoria, Australia.

  • Maguire, M. & Corbett, C. (1987) The Effects of Crime and the Work of Victims Support Schemes, Gower: Aldershot

  • McCormick, R.J. (1988) United States Crime Victim Assistance Programs, paper presented at 6th International Symposium on Victimology, Jerusalem, Israel, August 28 - September 1.

  • McGrath, G. (1989) Horror Revisited: Towards effective victim assistance by police in major crimes: a case study, South Australian Justice Administration Foundation, Adelaide.

  • Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Crime Victim Services, http://www.dps.state.mn.us/cvshome.html

  • Newburn, T. (1989) ‘The police, victims and victim support’, Research Bulletin, Home Office Research & Planning, No.26.

  • Newburn, T. (1990) ‘Customer Services’, Police Review, 14 December, pp.2460-2461.

  • New South Wales Task Force on Services to Victims of Crime (1987) Report and Recommendations, Attorney General’s Department, Sydney.

  • New South Wales Police (n.d.) Victims Policy.

  • Neuman, E. (1994) ‘Victimisation by Police in Latin America’, in G.F. Kirchhoff, E. Kosovski & H.J. Schneider (eds) International Debates of Victimology, WSV Publishing: Monchengladbach, pp.329-346.

  • Ratkowski, M.R. (1985) ‘Securing the Rights of Victims and Witnesses of Crime’, The Police Chief, LII(6), p63.

  • Reiner, R. (1985) The politics of police. Wheatsheaf: Brighton, UK.

  • Reiser, M. & Geiger, S.P. (1985) ‘Police Officer as Victim’, The Police Journal, June, pp.16-20.

  • Report of National Inquiry into Racial Violence in Australia (1991), Australian Government Printing Service: Canberra

  • Reporter (1987) ‘Crime Perception and Victimisation of Inner City Residents’, 8(1), pp.10-11.

  • Schaeffer, R. (1978) ‘Law Enforcer, peacekeeping or servicer: Role alternatives for policemen’, Journal of Police Science and Administration, 6(3).

  • Shapland, J., Willmore, J. & Duff, P. (1985) Victims in the criminal justice system, Gower: England.

  • Van de Bogaard, J. & Wiegman, O. (1991) ‘Property Crime Victimisation: the effectiveness of police services for victims of residential burglary’, Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality, 6(6), pp.329-362.

  • Van Maanen, J. (1983) ‘On the making of a policeofficer’, in C.B. Klockars (ed) Thinking about police: Contemporary Readings, McGraw-Hill: New York, pp.308-402.

  • Vianno, E.C. (1989) Crime and its Victims: International research and public policy issues (proceedings of the 4th International Institute on Victimology), NATO Advanced Research Workshop, Hemisphere Publishing: London.

  • Walklate, S. (1989) Victimology: The victim and the criminal justice process, Unwin Hyman: London.

  • Wilson, C. (1991) ‘Police as Victims of Crime’, Journal of the Australasian Society of Victimology, Special Edition, April, pp.61-62.

  • Young, M. (1993) Victim Assistance: Frontiers and Fundamentals, NOVA: Washington, DC.






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