Victims, the Forgotten Party in the Criminal Justices System: The Perception and Experiences of Crime Victims in Kumasi Metropolis in Ghana

Published date01 October 2019
Date01 October 2019
Victims, the Forgotten
Party in the Criminal
Justices System:
The Perception and
Experiences of Crime
Victims in Kumasi
Metropolis in Ghana
Kwadwo Ofori-Dua1
Nachinaab John Onzaberigu1
Richard Kofi Nimako1
Crime victims are an integral part of the criminal justice system. There has been
recurrent consensus of opinion that without crime victims there can be no effec-
tive prosecution. Nevertheless, most studies have been crime-offender-centred.
This research explored the experiences of the crime victim in the criminal justice
system. Methodologically, this study employed a qualitative technique, face-to-
face interviews to collect data. Purposive, snowball, expert sampling techniques
were used to select respondents. The study revealed that although most crime
victims were satisfied at the reporting stage, they were dissatisfied getting to
the end of the criminal justice system process. Victims of offences as robbery
and defrauding wanted their monies back after the imprisonment of offender
whilst victims of violent crimes like rape, assault and murder want compensa-
tion to foot medical bills and other losses they incurred. Victims generally per-
ceive that prosecution and conviction given to perpetrators were not deterring
enough. The findings showed that crime victims felt re-victimised by CJS officials;
especially because they were not treated with human dignity and the victims
had many interesting conceptions of ‘being treated with dignity’ and ‘not being
treated with dignity. The study concluded that the CJS should administer justice
expeditiously and should be more inclusive.
1 Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
2(2) 109–128, 2019
2019 National Law
University Delhi
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2516606919885516
Corresponding author:
Nachinaab John Onzaberigu, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Faculty of Social
Science Sociology and Social Work Department, PMB Kumasi, Ghana.
110 Journal of Victimology and Victim Justice 2(2)
Victimization, Criminal Justice System, Experiences, Victims Roles in CJS, Re-
The Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of
Power adopted in 1985 by the United Nations’ General Assembly is based on the
philosophy that victims should be adequately recognized and accorded access to
justice and prompt redress for the harm they have suffered (Worrall, 2014). The
crime victim from the outset was the centre of the criminal justice system (CJS)
of the United States of America.2 All criminal proceedings, investigations and
restitutions were done privately.3 As time progressed, crimes were no longer
transgressions against individuals, but transgressions against the State and the
victims fell out of the view of the criminal justice process.4,5
Beliefs, attitudes and opinions of people about crime are affected by wide-
spread access to news and entertainment about crimes, police, courts and prisons.
People’s attitudes and opinions about crime and justice are a reflection of their
judgements about social threats and harms, and perceptions of personal safety as
well as beliefs about criminal offenders.6 When a crime is committed, intellectuals
and policymakers are quick to ask of what can be done to the criminals and/or the
circumstantial events that occasioned the crime. However, very few people ever
think about what can be done about the victim and/or his/her circumstances.7
Gauging attitude to crime and justice is a well-established area of study in many
advanced democracies. As evidenced in the works of Wilson and Brown,8
Indermaur,9,10 Indermaur and Roberts11 and Walker et al.,12 perceptions of crime
and the CJS have been the subject of a number of surveys and scholarly reviews
since the 1970s. For the sake of clarity, a distinction has been drawn between
public perception and satisfaction, and victim-specific perception and satisfaction
with the CJS in the following discussions.
2 J. Travis, Turk and Conflict Theory: An Autobiographical Reflection, 12 Criminologist 3–7 (2013).
3 Id.
4 K. Cullen & T. Johnson, Clinical Correlates and Repetition of Self-harming Behaviours Among
Female Adolescent Victims of Sexual Abuse, 14 J Child sexual abuse 49–68 (2012).
5 Supra note 1.
6 D. Indermaur & L. Roberts, Perceptions of Crime and Justice, in australian soCial attitudes: the
First report, 141–160 (S. Wilson et al. eds., 2005).
7 A.Y. Usman & S.Y. Sarkinnoma, Crime Victims and Criminal Justice Criminal Administration in
Nigeria, 3 global J interdisC soC sCi 48–52 (2014).
8 W.J. Wilson & K.p. broWn, the truly disadvantaged (1973).
9 D. Indermaur, Public Perception of Sentencing in Perth, Western Australia, 20 australian neW
Zealand J Criminology 163–183 (1987).
10 d. indermaur, Crime seriousness and sentenCing: a Comparison oF Court praCtiCe and the
perCeptions oF a sample oF the publiC and Judges (1990).
11 Supra note 5.
12 a. WalKer et al., Crime in england and Wales 2008/09: Findings From the british Crime survey
and poliCe reCorded Crime (1988).

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