Week 10: Hidden victims

This week we turn our attention to those crime victims which don’t tend to receive as much attention as other groups, including homeless people, prisoners, and victims of cybercrime. We critically examine the overlap between victimisation and offending behaviour.

Image: Louise Grove CC BY 4.0
Graffiti in Barcelona. Image: Louise Grove CC BY 4.0

What is a hidden victim?

  • A hidden victim may be ‘undeserving’ victims – that is, not considered to deserve a victim status
  • Hidden victims may be part of social groups which are known to underreport crime
  • They form part of the ‘dark figure of crime’

Homeless victims

  • Not recorded in the Crime Survey in England and Wales
  • May be wary of reporting crime
  • Lack of capable guardianship; vulnerable individuals
  • Links to wider societal problems causing homelessness

Sex trafficking victims

  • Unknown population/location
  • May lack contact with outside world – therefore no guardianship available
  • Language or other barriers to reporting
  • These individuals may be victimised by rape, violence, psychological abuse, imprisonment, and by more than one offender
  • Potential links with organised crime

Victims in prison

  • Not recorded in the Crime Survey in England and Wales
  • Rarely appears in police recorded crime
  • Victims may lack clear, safe reporting route
  • Victimisation accepted as part of lifestyle in prison (see Wortley, 2002)
  • Reporting as weakness?

Cybercrime victims

  • Victim may not know they have been targeted
  • Lack of clear offender to arrest
  • Outside expertise of many mainstream police
  • Victim may be accused of offence (e.g. hacked system used to download illegal material)
  • One crime where victims are continuously reminded to take responsibility for their own safety, even from a young age

Other hidden victims…

  • Children
  • Disabled
  • Mental health issues
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Foreign nationals
  • Illegal immigrants
  • These differ from many of the earlier ‘hidden’ victims because these are often seen as ‘deserving’ of their victim status, but may be less willing or able to report the crime.

Victims’ families

  • Who clears up the house after a murder or other violent crime?
  • Are the families of victims affected by crime too?
  • Can families of victims access support?

Routine activities theory and hidden victimisation

  • Routine activities theory states that a crime occurs when a motivated offender, suitable target, and lack of capable guardianship coincide in time and space.
  • Some groups have lifestyles or features which make them more vulnerable to victimisation
  • For more information on lifestyle theories, see Hindelang, 1978

Why is it important to understand hidden victimisation?

  • Under-reporting means that funding does not get allocated to these groups
  • Disproportionate victimisation should be minimised
  • We don’t understand the true picture of crime, so it impossible to track changes or evaluate improvements
  • Human rights

It is possible to class many groups as hidden victims, so take care: generally we use the term to refer to the undeserving victim, although it can also be used for other groups of victims.

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1h_eNZYksVGVyAVC5-vTRFIn0KsyNHJPLS367LHAV_0Y/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000″ size=”medium”]

You may also access the slides directly here


Relevant links:
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