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Police‐based victim services: Australian and international models

Dean Wilson (School of Law, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK)
Marie Segrave (Monash University, Clayton, Australia)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 23 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to provide an outline of the strengths and weaknesses of selected models of police‐based victim services. It aims to provide an overview of the current predominant models of police‐based victim support in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia. It also aims to advance a typology of police‐based victim services as a useful analytic tool for understanding the varying models.


The research was based on extensive documentary analysis supplemented by semi‐structured interviews with 17 practitioners in the USA, Canada and Australia. Sites were selected for interview based on documentary research which indicated that they had developed police‐based victim services in their organization that were either particularly representative or innovative.


Police‐based victim services can be categorized into three broad models: unit services, dedicated liaison officer services, and referral services. Each model has strengths and weaknesses in terms of service delivery and police organization. Unit services may be optimum in delivering services but are also resource‐intensive and may be beyond the financial scope of some police organizations. They also potentially risk sequestering victim services within police organizations and reinforcing a view that dealing with victims of crime is not “real policing”. Dedicated officer services require significant institutional input to achieve their goals, while referral models necessitate workable mechanisms for inter‐agency cooperation. Thus police organizations need a clear perception of their victim services delivery role and how this might best be achieved.


The academic literature on police‐based victim services remains scant. This paper makes a valuable contribution to the literature by providing a useful typology for the analysis of police‐based victim services and the assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. The typology will prove useful for future empirical case‐studies of individual police‐based victim services.



Wilson, D. and Segrave, M. (2011), "Police‐based victim services: Australian and international models", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 479-496.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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