Victimology: Criminology and Victim

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Explore the advantages and disadvantages of the positivist approach to victimology. This assignment will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the positive approach to victimology. It will do this by looking at other victimology approaches such as; Radical, feminist, and critical victimology. Analysing the different theories within each approach, to highlight the negatives and positives within the positivist approach to victimology. “The key characteristics of positivist victimology can be described as, the identification of factors which contribute a non-random pattern of their own victimisation, a focus on interpersonal crimes of violence and a concern to identify victims who may have contributed to their own victimisation.” (Marsh, I. Melville, G. 2009) the Main theories to arise from this perspective are victim precipitation, victim culpability, victim proneness and lifestyle. All these theories focus on patterns of victimisation. The lifestyle theory, “developed by Michael Hindelang, Michael Gottredson and James Garofalo, Attempt to explain why certain groups of people for example, youths, males, the poor, singles, racial/ethnic minorities have higher rates of victimisation than others. The gist of the theory is that these groups by virtue of their lifestyle, place themselves at greater risk of victimization. A life style refers to the patterned way in which people distribute their times and energies across a range of activities” (Vito, G. Maahs, J.2011). An advantage to this theory could help expose the higher rates of victimisation this could “help make sense of criminal victimisation survey data” (Walklate, S 2007). Being able to identify areas where crime rates are higher, leading to improvement that could be done to reduce the risk in the areas with high victimisation rates. By highlighting these groups of people at risk of victimisation due to their lifestyle, suggestions can be made to help reduce the risk. For instance more help for drug addicts in areas which drug use is high and applying more policing to areas which have high rates of crime such as burglary and mugging. The next theory, “Von Hentig’s typology worked with a notion of victim proneness. He argues that there some people, by virtue of their structural characteristics, who were much more likely to be victims of crime than other people. Amongst those he identified were woman, children, the elderly and the mentally subnormal” (Walklate, S 2007) this creating an idea of a certain type of victim which has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance reducing the risk of victimisation can be done by identifying groups of individuals more vulnerable to victimisation than others. This could then help reduce the victimisation, by identifying the patterns of relationships between the victim and offender, then attempting to break these patterns. Examples of this that can be used in practice are CRB (criminal record checks) checks that are carried out to identify any dangerous convictions an individual may have. For instance being a danger to a child in a school or a care worker in a residential home. CBR checks ensure individuals with convictions cannot work with these vulnerable persons. Another theorist to develop a typology was Mendelsohn; he “adopted a more legalistic framework in developing his typology. His underlying concept was the notion of ‘victim culpability’. Using this idea, he developed a six fold typology, from the victim who could be shown as completely innocent, to the victim who started as the perpetrator and during the course of an incident became the victim” (Walklate, S 2007). Focusing on the role which the victim can have in precipitating in their own victimisation; this then leads on to the work of Wolfgang and the victim precipitation and its advantages. Wolfgang first introduced victim precipitation as how a victim’s behaviour affects their role in becoming a victim. For example in Wolfgang’s work on homicides he argues...
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