Responding to Repeat VictimizationSince the risk of repeat victimization is highest in the short-term, responses with the greatest potential for being effective have the following characteristics:
Responses emphasize quick action—within 24 hours if possible—to prevent a subsequent offense.
- Highest priority is accorded repeat victims with the most victimization, and these victims receive an increased level or amount of the response. This type of graded response deploys the easiest or least expensive measures to first-time victims and increases the intensity of the response if subsequent victimizations occur.
- Responses to repeat victimization may be temporary since the increased risk of revictimization is most acute in the short-term.
Types of Responses to Repeat Victimization
There are three primary ways of responding to RV:
- Protecting victims by blocking future opportunities against these specific persons or places
- Shifting responsibility for repeat victimization
- Increasing actual or perceived risks of apprehension for offenders, primarily repeat offenders
These types of responses may be combined, depending on the type of problem.
Protecting Victims1. Quickly blocking visual signs of victimization. Obvious signs of property damage should be removed immediately to block visual signs of vulnerability. Needy victims may need assistance in quickly securing properties.
Shifting Responsibility for Repeat Victimization7. Educating victims or eliminating excuses for risky behaviors. Victim behaviors, such as failing to secure property or walking alone, may contribute to victimization. Once victimized, victims can be educated about their risk of being victimized again. Services such as escorts for women walking alone on college campuses, access to shelters or protective custody for domestic violence victims, and crime prevention devices such as dead bolt locks can eliminate excuses for risky behavior.
Since changes in management practices may be costly and inconvenient, some businesses might prefer to put up with repeat victimization as a "cost" of doing business. In such cases, police should consider steps to encourage the adoption of preventive strategies. Education and informal requests may convince some property owners to adopt protective measures. Since predictable repeat victimization reduces the amount of police service available to unwilling victims, some repeat victims may be persuaded to adopt crime prevention strategies through the application of publicity, user fees, or even civil actions.
Increasing Risks to Offenders9. Temporarily increasing surveillance. For victimized locations and people, informal and formal surveillance can be increased temporarily through police patrols, security guards, and employees for a wide range of offenses from vandalism to burglary to domestic violence.
- Temporary surveillance can be increased through "cocoon watch," a type of Neighborhood Watch in which nearby residents are informed of an offense and asked to be particularly vigilant.
- Electronic surveillance, including CCTV and portable burglar alarms, can also be temporarily used in many settings.
- Domestic violence victims may be provided with panic alarms to quickly contact police about repeat offenses.
- Tracking devices, such as units temporarily placed in vehicles, can be used to detect offenders.
- Marking or etching property with identification makes it difficult to sell property, and ink packs in cash packs limit use.
- Cash control procedures in retail stores limit the amount to be stolen, and return policies can reduce shoplifting.
While some effective responses to repeat victimizations may focus on increasing the risks to offenders, particularly repeat offenders, caution should be exercised in focusing on increasing apprehension of offenders. Efforts to apprehend unknown offenders are resource intensive and may not be successful, particularly for property offenses. In some situations, tactical or short-term police efforts such as baiting, stings, or surveillance to prevent revictimization of individual persons or places may result in the apprehension of an individual offender. While these offenders may be responsible for numerous offenses, police should consider whether the initial characteristics of the vulnerable victim or location are likely to remain unchanged and therefore attract other offenders.
The most effective and efficient crime reduction strategies will likely consist of longer-term efforts to prevent revictimization by changing the characteristics of types of repeat victims. For example, adopting pre-pay policies at gas stations with repeated gasoline drive-offs will produce longer-term benefits than arresting a single offender or even several offenders.
Free Bound Copies of the Tool Guides
You may order free bound copies in any of three ways:
Online: Department of Justice COPS Response Center
Phone: 800-421-6770 or 202-307-1480
Allow several days for delivery.
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Analyzing Repeat Victimization
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