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When is violence not a crime? : factors associated with victims' labelling of violence as a crime

Brennan, Iain R; Brennan, Iain R.


Iain R Brennan


Many people do not regard violence against them as a crime, but the factors that influence this response are unknown. Understanding how the ‘crimeworthiness’ of violence is interpreted allows an insight into how victims make sense of their experience, how communities influence attitudes towards victimisation and the reporting of crime to the police. A pooled cross-sectional sample of respondents to the Crime Survey for England and Wales was used to identify factors associated with the decision to label or discount a violent incident as a crime. Individual and neighbourhood-level effects were estimated using multilevel modelling. Harm, the perceived unjustness of the incident and victim-offender relational distance predicted labelling, whereas frequency of victimisation and victim initiation of the incident predicted discounting. Neighbourhood and neighbourhood crime had little effect on victims’ interpretations of the ‘crimeworthiness’ of violence. When victims interpret violence against them, they appear to do so unencumbered by social norms, but are influenced by the impact of the violence, the ‘prototypicality’ of the incident as a crime and their previous experience of violence.


Brennan, I. R. (2016). When is violence not a crime? : factors associated with victims' labelling of violence as a crime. International review of victimology, 22(1), 3-23.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 17, 2015
Online Publication Date Nov 2, 2015
Publication Date 2016-01
Deposit Date Nov 3, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal International review of victimology
Print ISSN 0269-7580
Electronic ISSN 2047-9433
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 1
Pages 3-23
Keywords Crime, Labelling, Multilevel modelling, Neighbourhood effects, Victimisation violence
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Author's accepted manuscript of article published in: International review of victimology, 2015


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