Using Victims’ Voices to Prevent Violence Against Women: A Critique

Published 13/03/2002
Type Article
Author(s) Mark Oldfield
Corresponding Authors Mark Oldfield, Kent Probation Area and University of Hertfordshire

Several changes to the UK criminal justice system have led to an increasing visibility and engagement with victims after decades of concentrating mainly on offenders. Victim-focused policies have advanced from homogenising  responses to victims of crime through to appreciating the diversity in victims’ needs and wants, while also seeking to reduce or prevent future victimisation. However, several ‘victim-focused’ crime prevention policies are paradoxically dependent on the creation of a victim in the first place. This paper considers this contradiction in relation to two recent Coalition Government proposals. Both the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme and plans to criminalise stalking behaviours rely upon victimisation already having taken place. The paper argues that these supposedly ‘preventative’ proposals are in fact responsive and problematic as their implementation relies upon the creation of victims. Furthermore, it suggests that rather than effectively preventing abuse, victims’ voices are instead being used to enhance and expand legislation. The paper suggests that criminal justice policies alone are unable to prevent violence against women and that more engagement needs to occur outside of the criminal justice arena.