What is it about?

Sometimes victims are offered the opportunity to meet with the offender after a crime, usually as part of a restorative justice scheme. Many people assume that victims would most want to take up this offer when the crime is relatively minor. This study investigates whether the assumption is true. A national survey (Crime Survey for England and Wales) asked victims whether they would have wanted to meet with the offender if they had been given the opportunity at the time. It also asked victims to rate how serious they thought the crime was, in a number of different ways. There was no relationship between the overall severity of the crime and victim willingness to meet the offender. When focused on specifically on the impact of the crime, victims who said the crime had the greatest impact on them were in fact more likely to be willing to meet the offender.

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Why is it important?

The finding suggests that restorative justice schemes should be offered to victims regardless of the severity of the crime, rather than primarily to victims of minor crimes. Only if it is not possible to offer the opportunity to all victims, then it makes most sense to exclude victims who say the crime did not have an impact on them, as they are least likely to want to participate.

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This page is a summary of: How crime severity predicts victim willingness to meet the offender., Psychology Public Policy and Law, May 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/law0000354.
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