Victimology and criminalisation
Victim in criminal law
Historically, victim was responsible for the retribution – punishment is for the
o Satisfaction and punishment of offender.
o The state replaces the victim.
If you commit a crime, you not only injure the victim but you
have committed a crime against the state as well.
Upset the crowd as well as the actual victim.
The offender is held responsible by the state.
o Begins the neglect of the victim.
Concerned about harms to the state and social order.
State uses the body of the individual who has been harmed to
place punishment/prosecution onto the offender.
Criminal law needs to be sufficiently clear and precise to
enable us to identify the harm/wrong with which we’re trying
to criminalise (for prevention or restitution).
Expansion of the state may be attributed to the victims’ rights movement – but
findings suggest little link.
o Victim criminal law doesn’t actually cause the victims’ rights
movement – most new crimes contain a victim and they were the focus
and trying to understand why this is the case.
o Frameworks about why they are the focus (Sebba):
Analytic – determine if offences possess some characteristic
that link them in a conceptual way to victim.
Rhetorical – focus on language employed in definitions or
debates preceding enactment.
o Moved from victim-driven to victim-oriented.
o E.g. smacking children – movement is pro-child, not anti-adult.
There are groups that think people should be able to riot (pro-
literary) and do whatever they want as long as they don’t harm
But children are copying their parents – not smacking to
deliberately create victimisation, they’re just trying to teach
them to do the right thing.
Distinguish types of crimes
Mala in Se offences – by nature violate the natural, moral or public principles
of a civilised society.
Mala Prohibita offences – wrongs by virtue of being prohibited (genuinely
o Trespassing. o Gambling.
o Tax avoidance.
Victims and criminal proceedings
How victims have been localised in criminal proceedings.
Focus on extending procedural rights.
o Having access to police officers, family liaison officers, sexual
offences officers, etc.
o Informing the victim of which state the case is at e.g. when it goes to
court, when the offender is likely to be released.
State benefit – creating a situation where a victim cannot deny
their engagement in the CJS in order to avoid engaging in a
prosecution (pawn of the state, seeking to punish and go along
with the state process).
o Satisfaction from punishment from the victim is not usually achieved
through the use of state processes.
o If we recognise that there are structural problems that created the
situation where the offender went on to offend and be convicted, does
that mean that society has now a greater responsibility to that person
and more generally to us all in creating a situation where offenders are
as they are today (offending against us all because we are all victims).
o Not all receive compensation but it injures us all because we all think
we’re going to be victims.
Victim-impact statements – achieve/legitimise judges in giving out harsher
o If the victim says how it has affected them e.g. they will never work
again, the judge will give a harsher sentences.
Bill of rights:
o Mitigating impact of Constitutional protections for the offender.
o Right of innocence, defence, etc.
Who is the victim
Our conceptions of the victims and victimisation are optional, discretionary,
and by no means innately given.
o We don’t have an innate disgust against offences but we have been
socialised that those are things we do not want in our society.
Social construction of law itself, all crimes have a victim,
o The conception of the victim precedes the definition of an act as
o Makes us think critically about how we construct our society and
understand what it wants, or find a victim and create criminalisation
based on that.
Only those acts which cause harm to those who are able to make and enforce