Last week, Professor Matthew Hall of Lincoln Law School delivered a closing plenary address at Northumbria University to the annual Symposium of the British Society of Criminology’s Specialist Victims Network. In his talk, Prof. Hall discussed the future directions of victimology and how those working within this field might inform policy making in the context of recent political upheavals around the world: including Brexit and a general shift towards more nationalistic thinking. In particular, Prof. Hall challenged the audience – made up of leading thinkers in the study of victimisation as well as representatives of the victim support community and a number of police and crime commissioners – to think more broadly about the group we label as ‘victims’, reflecting more culturally-informed (rather than a legally informed) notions of ‘victimisation’, ‘suffering’ and ‘trauma’. Drawing on examples including the 96 victims who died as a result of the Hillsborough Football Stadium Disaster of 1989, the Ched Evans rape trials and the recent attention paid to historical child sexual abuse, Matthew argued that previous cultural and legal narratives about who ‘counts’ as a victim of crime is changing and that official pronouncements to this end are not as readily accepted. This has significant implications for those tasked with supporting victims both now and in the future. Prof. Hall also emphasised the importance of speaking to victims directly in order to learn more about their needs and to tailor support mechanisms appropriately.
Professor Hall said “This has been a wonderful day of debate and discussion, emphasising how far we have come in supporting victims whilst also exposing the work that is still needed to truly do right by victims of all kinds of crime, and indeed of wider social harms”.
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