Process of Victimisation: Investigating Risk, Reporting and Service Use

Stephanie Fohring

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract / Description of output

Much current research on victimisation focuses primarily on demographic risk factors associated with those who have experienced crime and how these factors affect the likelihood of a person breaching the so called ‘first hurdle’. That is, the probability of moving from a state of non-victim to one of victim. In contrast, this thesis will argue that in order to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of victimisation, it is not only desirable but necessary to move beyond the study of the causes of criminal victimisation and examine the consequences for victims as well as the criminal justice system as a whole. Thus, it seeks to explain the experience of victimisation not just as an isolated incident, but as a process consisting of a number of steps or stages of progression through the criminal justice system, each one building on the last. As such, in addition to considering risk factors, this thesis also examines the decision to report a crime to the police, the use of victim services, as well as the perceived satisfaction with services received. In so doing it explores not only the causes and consequences of crime, but the longer term impact of criminal victimisation. The results presented here are based on the secondary analysis of data from the 2008/9 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey complimented by a data set acquired through in-depth interviews with victims of crime from the Edinburgh Local Authority. Interview data is used to provide a greater depth of meaning to the patterns which emerged from the survey data; lending insight into the psychological processes driving victim decision making and behaviour. This thesis thus provides an example of how a combination of techniques including multi-level modelling and interview analysis, provide a clearer understanding of how victims experience crime. Findings suggest that factors associated with each step of the process are related and may represent a more general underlying pattern of victimisation. It is also argued that by employing multi-level analysis, the thesis provides a more accurate explanation of how respondent’s experiences may differ according to the context in which they live. Finally, the analysis highlights the ongoing importance of emotion in victim decision making and the severity of long term impact. The analysis presented offers new insights into how we understand victimisation as an ongoing experience, as well as demonstrating the necessity of the analytic techniques employed. It is however somewhat confined by the coverage of survey questions and the limited generalizability of the data collected in interviews due to the small sample size. These concerns will be discussed, along with recommendations for victim policy and future research.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Edinburgh
  • McVie, Susan, Supervisor
  • Sparks, Richard, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date26 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • victims
  • reporting
  • multilevel modelling
  • crime


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