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A qualitative examination of engagement with support services by victims of violent crime

Bryce, J and Brooks, M and Robinson, P and Stokes, R and Irving, M and Graham-Kevan, N and Willan, VJ and Khan, R and Karwacka, M and Lowe, M (2016) A qualitative examination of engagement with support services by victims of violent crime. International Review of Victimology, 22 (3). pp. 239-255. ISSN 0269-7580

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Abstract

Research elsewhere has suggested that the level of victim engagement with support services is generally low, and that many individuals are at risk of trauma symptomology and associated negative psychological outcomes as a result. The existing literature examining barriers to engagement with victim services is relatively small and largely quantitative, and a detailed qualitative examination of decisions to engage with victim services has yet to be undertaken. To address this gap in the literature, the current study examined the provision of information and referral processes by the police, initial and follow-up contact with support services, and perceived barriers to engagement. Victim evaluations of the services used were also examined. Seventeen semi-structured interviews were conducted with the victims of violent crime during a six-month period in a police force in England and Wales. Participants who engaged with victim services reported experiencing significant benefits as a result of the support they received; however, there was a generally low level of engagement with Victim Support and other services in the sample. Several different factors associated with lack of engagement were identified by the analysis, consistent with the results of previous research. The implications of the study for developing more effective strategies for increasing victim engagement, in ways consistent with current local, national and European policy, are considered.

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