This article examines one element of the state’s responses to crime: the provision of a taxpayer-funded compensation scheme for victims of personal and sexual violence. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 sits within a political context that seeks to ensure that victims of crime are better served by the criminal justice system of England and Wales, the jurisdiction that is the focus of this article. The government’s fundamental policy is that this scheme exists to compensate only those victims who are ‘blameless’, either in terms of their character, criminal record, conduct at the time of the incident, or in their engagement with the criminal justice agencies. It is a policy that illuminates elements of two of the questions that the editors posed for this Special Issue of Societies.
Reviewing the increased urgency in government policies concerning the treatment of victims of crime, the first section addresses the question of how, why and when victims came to shape political and criminal justice discourse and practice. The question of how, and to what end, cultural representations have shaped perceptions of victims is addressed in the second and third sections, which examine the notion of victim status and illustrate the ways in which eligible (‘ideal’) victims are perceived and their claims under this scheme are determined.
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