Victim Study Petrice Alice
A victim study ( or victimization survey) is a survey, for instance the British Crime Survey. It asks a sample of participants in which crimes have been committed against them. Whether over a fixed period of time and or not, they have been reported to the police. Victim studies may be carried out at a national or local level.
Victim studies are an image of the public that request them to report any crimes that they have experienced.
This is one of the main ways in which the ‘dark figure of crime’ is exposed, particularly in cases of abuse (domestic, sexual etc.) Most surveys usually show the level of criminal activity has been at least double than what appears in the official crime statistics.
Victim surveys are usually of two forms;
- National survey – a whole country where people are asked to provide information on crimes which have been perpetrated against them. For example the British Crime Survey.
- Area or neighbourhood surveys – in which a specific, usually inner city, neighbourhood is targeted, and criminologists or sociologists create a more detailed study. These small scale victim studies have often been associated with Left Realist criminology. For instance, victim studies that have been carried out in Islington in London by Jock Young, reveal a fear of crime amongst local residents which forms a lot of their behaviour.
Strengths of a victim study:
Can be anonymous – more likely to be honest
Practical – easy to understand, cheaper than other methods e.g interviews
Allows respondents to explain in their own words and personal opinions(more likely to be honest)
Weakness of a victim survey:
Qualitative data – hard to analyse
Participants can lie (especially abuse victims due to embarrassment and being uncomfortable)
Respondents (like in interviews) cannot ask if they are unsure of a question
Questions cannot be changed (like in interviews) and therefore is dependant on the answers given
Low response rate
A criticism of victim surveys is that there is no way of verifying information given by respondents.