Victims of Crime
By Matthew Hall
Routledge – 2009 – 272 pages
Over the last thirty years, victims of crime have become a staple topic of media interest and policy-making discourse.Drawing on an extensive programme of first-hand empirical data gathered at some 300 English criminal trials, this book examines the practical outcomes of this reform agenda and assesses the meaning, implications and impact of the government's pledge to put victims 'at the heart' of the criminal justice system.The study also draws on in-depth interviews with barristers and solicitors, as well as court administrators and other Local Criminal Justice Board members. The book delves into the policy-making process behind these reforms, based on interviews conducted at key government departments, and offers a model for what a genuinely 'victim centred' criminal justice system might look like in the twenty-first century, drawing on the psychological and sociological literature on narrative responses to traumatic events.
1. Victims, victimology and policy-making. Researching victims. Victims in academia and politics. Raising questions. Methodology. Book structure 2. Victims in criminal justice: rights, services and vulnerability. Victim 'rights'. Facilities, services and support for victims. Vulnerable and intimidated victims as witnesses. Ways forward 3. Victims of crime: a policy chain?. Victim policies?. Interpreting the 'policy'. Victims and witnesses: shaping the 'policy'. Politics, pressure and influences: deconstructing the 'policy chain'. A 'policy chain' 4. A narrative-based model of victim-centredness in criminal trials. Story-telling and narrative. Stories in criminal trials. Victims' narratives and account-making at the heart of criminal justice 5. Victims in criminal trials: victims at court. The Witness Service. Prosecutors and victims. Wider facilities and information at court. Waiting at court. Domestic violence: 'one on its own'?. Victims at court 6. Victims in criminal trials: the trial itself. Calling witnesses. Giving evidence. Reactions to evidence. Special measures. The impact of crime in criminal trials. Victims and witnesses after trials. Victims at the heart of criminal justice: principles or practice? 7. Victims 'at the heart' of criminal justice: a discussion. What would it mean to have a victim-centred criminal justice system?. What factors have driven this 'policy'?. What has putting victims 'at the heart' of the system meant so far in practice?. Final points
Matthew Hall is Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Sheffield.