Victim Participation in Criminal Procedure: An Introduction

  • Kerstin BraunEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Victims and Victimology book series (PSVV)


Many Western criminal justice systems saw the ‘rediscovery’ of the victim during the second half of the twentieth century in law, policy and legal-political dialogue. On the international level, in 1985 the United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power called upon Member States to improve the situation for victims in their national criminal justice systems. To attain this goal, the Declaration suggests that victims should be provided with certain rights during proceedings. While some of these are concerned with the respectful treatment of and the provision of information to victims, one specific principle submits that allowing victims to present views and concerns during proceedings and thus affording them some form of participation may enhance their situation. Whether and how victims are able to participate in national criminal justice systems, however, is up to the individual jurisdictions to decide and is heavily dependent on the respective legal system and tradition. This chapter first provides a brief outline of developments concerning victims’ participatory rights on the national and international level. It subsequently introduces the adversarial and non-adversarial criminal justice systems chosen for in-depth analysis of victim participation rights at the pre-trial, trial and post-trial stage. These are England and Wales, Australia and the US (adversarial systems), France and Germany (inquisitorial systems) as well as Denmark and Sweden (mixed systems). The chapter closes by highlighting the overall scope of this volume.


UN declaration for victims Procedural justice Inquisitorial systems Adversarial systems Mixed criminal justice systems Participatory rights for victims 


  1. Aldana-Pinell, R. (2004). An Emerging Universality of Justiciable Victims’ Rights in the Criminal Process to Curtail Impunity for State-Sponsored Crimes. Human Rights Quarterly, 26, 605–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, S. (1992). The Transition from Inquisitorial to Adversarial Criminal Procedure in Denmark. Scandinavian Studies, 64(2), 181–198.Google Scholar
  3. Ash, M. (1972). On Witnesses: A Radical Critique of Criminal Court Procedures. Notre Dame Lawyer, 48, 386–425.Google Scholar
  4. Ashworth, A. (2000). Victims’ Rights, Defendants’ Rights and Criminal Procedure. In A. Crawford & J. Goodey (Eds.), Integrating a Victim Perspective Within Criminal Justice: International Debates (pp. 185–204). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2018). 3101.0—Australian Demographic Statistics, December 2017, Figures for 2017. Retrieved from
  6. Bohlander, M. (2012). Principles of German Criminal Procedure. Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  7. Broyles, S. (2015). Criminal Law in the USA. Alphen aan den Rijn, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar
  8. Burkhardt, M. (2010). Victim Participation Before the International Criminal Court (Doctor Iuris thesis). Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. Retrieved from
  9. Casey, P., & Rottman, D. (2000). Therapeutic Jurisprudence in the Courts. Behavioural Sciences and the Law, 18, 445–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Christie, N. (1977). Conflicts as Property. British Journal of Criminology, Delinquency and Deviant Social Behaviour, 17(1), 1–15.Google Scholar
  11. Cornils, K. (2013). Sweden. In U. Sieber, K. Jarvers, & E. Silvermann (Eds.), National Criminal Law in a Comparative Legal Context, 1.1: Introduction to National Systems, Schriftenreihe des Max-Planck Instituts fuer Auslaendisches und Internationals Strafrecht (pp. 133–204). Berlin: Duncker & Humbolt.Google Scholar
  12. Cumes, G. (2013). Australia. In U. Sieber, K. Jarvers, & E. Silvermann (Eds.), National Criminal Law in a Comparative Legal Context, 1.2: Introduction to National Systems, Schriftenreihe des Max-Planck Instituts fuer Auslaendisches und Internationals Strafrecht (pp. 1–84). Berlin: Duncker & Humbolt.Google Scholar
  13. Erez, E., Ibarra, P. & Downs, D. (2011). Victim Welfare and Participation Reforms in the United States: A Therapeutic Jurisprudence Perspective. In E. Erez, M. Kilchling, & J-A. Wemmers (Eds.), Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Victim Participation in Justice (pp. 15–40). Durham: Carolina Academic Press.Google Scholar
  14. Erez, E., Roeger, L., & Morgan, F. (1997). Victim Harm, Impact Statements and Victim Satisfaction with Justice: An Australian Experience. International Review of Victimology, 5, 37–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. European Union. (2018). Living in the EU. Retrieved from
  16. Forster, S. (2013). England and Wales. In U. Sieber, K. Jarvers, & E. Silvermann (Eds.), National Criminal Law in a Comparative Legal Context, 1.1: Introduction to National Systems, Schriftenreihe des Max-Planck Instituts fuer Auslaendisches und Internationals Strafrecht (pp 3–72). Berlin: Duncker & Humboldt.Google Scholar
  17. Freiberg, A. (2011). Post-adversarial and Post-inquisitorial Justice: Transcending Traditional Penological Paradigms. European Journal of Criminology, 8(1), 82–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Garkawe, S. (1994). The Role of the Victim During Criminal Court Proceedings. The University of New South Wales Law Journal, 17(2), 595–616.Google Scholar
  19. Garkawe, S. (2003). The History of the Legal Rights of Victims of Crime in the Australian Criminal Justice System. In Victims of Crime Bureau, NSW Attorney-General’s Department (Ed.), Raising the Standards: Charting Government Agencies’ Responsibilities to Implement Victims’ Rights (pp. 35–42). Sydney: Victims of Crime Bureau.Google Scholar
  20. Goldstein, A., & Marcus, M. (1977). The Myth of Judicial Supervision in Three Inquisitorial Systems: France, Italy, and Germany. Yale Law Journal, 87, 240–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Groenhuijsen, M. S. (2004). Victims’ Rights and Restorative Justice: Piecemeal Reform of the Criminal Justice System or a Change of Paradigm? In H. Kaptein & M. Malsch (Eds.), Crime, Victims and Justice: Essays on Principles and Practice (pp. 63–79). Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  22. Henkel, H. (1937). Die Beteiligung des Verletzten am kuenftigen Strafverfahren. Zeitschrift fuer die Gesamte Strafrechtswissenschaft, 56, 227–254.Google Scholar
  23. Hermann, J. (1987). The Federal Republic of Germany. In G. F. Cole, S. Frankowski, & M. G. Gertz (Eds.), Major Criminal Justice Systems: A Comparative Survey (2nd ed., pp. 106–138). Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Hubig, S. (2008). Die historische Entwicklung des Opferschutzes im Strafverfahren. In F. Fastie (Ed.), Opferschutz im Strafverfahren- Psychosoziale Prozessbegleitung bei Gewalt- und Sexualstraftaten (2nd ed., pp. 285–302). Leverkusen Opladen: Verlag Barbara Budrich.Google Scholar
  25. Husabo, E. J. (2010). History and Tendencies in the Development of Criminal Procedure Law in the Scandinavian Countries, and in Norway in Particular. Law & Justice Review, 1(1), 19–34.Google Scholar
  26. Kilchling, M. (2002). Opferschutz und der Strafanspruch des Staates-ein Wiederspruch. Neue Zeitschrift fuer Strafrecht, 22, 57–63.Google Scholar
  27. Kirchengast, T. (2006). The Victim in Criminal Law and Justice. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kirchengast, T. (2016a). Victimology and Victim Rights: International Comparative Perspectives. Oxon, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Kirchengast, T. (2016b). Victims and the Criminal Trial. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Langsted, L. B., Garde, P., & Greve, V. (2014). Criminal Law in Denmark (4th ed.). Alphen aan den Rijn, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar
  31. Laxminarayan, M. (2012). Procedural Justice and Psychological Effects of Criminal Proceedings: The Moderating Effect of Offense Type. Social Justice Research, 25(4), 390–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Laxminarayan, M., Henrichs, J., & Pemberton, A. (2012). Procedural and Interactional Justice: A Comparative Study of Victims in the Netherlands and New South Wales. European Journal of Criminology, 9(3), 260–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Leventhal, G. (1980). What Should Be Done with Equity Theory? In K. J. Gergen, M. S. Greenberg, & R. H. Willis (Eds.), Social Exchange: Advances in Theory and Research (pp. 27–55). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McDonald, W. F. (1975). Towards a Bicentennial Revolution in Criminal Justice: The Return of the Victim. American Criminal Law Review, 13, 649–673.Google Scholar
  35. McDonald, W. F. (1976). Criminal Justice and the Victim. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. O’Hear, M. (2007). Plea Bargaining and Victims: From Consultation to Guidelines. Marquette Law Review, 91, 323–347.Google Scholar
  37. Office of National Statistics. (2017a). Overview of the UK Population: July 2017. Retrieved from
  38. Office of National Statistics. (2017b). Freedom of Information (FOI): UK Population 2017. Retrieved from
  39. Orth, U. (2002). Secondary Victimization of Crime Victims by Criminal Proceedings. Social Justice Research, 15(4), 313–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ortwein, B. M., II. (2003). The Swedish Legal System: An Introduction. Indiana International and Comparative Law Review, 13(2), 405–445.Google Scholar
  41. Pemberton, A., & Reynaers, S. (2011). The Controversial Nature of Victim Participation: Therapeutic Benefits in Victim Impact Statements. In E. Erez, M. Kilchling, & J.-A. Wemmers (Eds.), Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Victim Participation in Justice (pp. 229–248). Durham: Carolina Academic Press.Google Scholar
  42. Pfuetzner, P., Adams, S., Neumann, L., & Walther, J. (2013). France. In U. Sieber, K. Jarvers, & E. Silvermann (Eds.), National Criminal Law in a Comparative Legal Context, 1.4: Introduction to National Systems, Schriftenreihe des Max-Planck Instituts fuer Auslaendisches und Internationals Strafrecht (pp. 79–174). Berlin: Duncker & Humbolt.Google Scholar
  43. Pizzi, W., & Perron, W. (1996). Crime Victims in German Courtrooms: A Comparative Perspective on American Problems. Stanford Journal of International Law, 32, 37–64.Google Scholar
  44. Richter, H. (1994). Wie erleben und verarbeiten Opfer den Strafprozeß?- Erste Befunde aus einer Untersuchung des Max-Planck-Institutes für ausländisches und internationales Strafrecht Freiburg in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Weissen Ring. In D. Eppenstein (Ed.), Taeterrechte-Opferrechte: Neue Gewichtung im Strafprozess (pp. 57–64). Mainz: Weisser Ring Gemeinnützige Verlags-GmbH.Google Scholar
  45. Rosenfeld, E. H. (1900). Die Nebenklage des Reichsstrafprozesses: Ein Beitrag zur Lehre von den Rechten des Verletzten im Strafverfahren. Berlin: Guttentag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sanders, A., Hoyle, C., Morgan, R., & Cape, E. (2001). Victim Impact Statements: Don’t Work, Can’t Work. Criminal Law Review, 6, 447–458.Google Scholar
  47. Sankoff, P., & Wansbrough, L. (2006). Is Three Really a Crowd? Thoughts About Victim Impact Statements and New Zealand’s Revamped Sentencing Regime. Paper Presented at the 20th International Conference of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law Brisbane, 2–6 July.Google Scholar
  48. Schneider, H. J. (1975). Viktimologie: Wissenschaft vom Verbrechensopfer. Tuebingen: Mohr.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. (1985). Milan 26 August–5 September 1985. Report Prepared by the Secretariat. UN Doc A/Conf.121/22/Rev.1.Google Scholar
  50. Shapland, J., Willmore, J., & Duff, P. (1985). Victims in the Criminal Justice System. London: Gower Publishing.Google Scholar
  51. Statistics Sweden. (2018). Population Statistics—Figures as of March 2018. Retrieved from
  52. Steiner, E. (2018). French Law: A Comparative Approach (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. (2017). Population by Sex and Age on 1st January 2018, France Demographic Balance Sheet 2017. Retrieved from
  54. Thibaut, J., & Walker, L. (1975). Procedural Justice: A Psychological Analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  55. Tyler, T. (2003). Procedural Justice, Legitimacy, and the Effective Rule of Law. In M. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and Justice: A Review of Research (pp. 283–357). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  56. Tyler, T., & Huo, Y. (2002). Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation with the Police and Courts. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  57. Tyler, T., & Lind, A. (2001). Procedural Justice. In J. Sanders & L. Hamilton (Eds.), Handbook of Justice Research in Law (pp. 65–92). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  58. United States Census Bureau. (2018). U.S. and World Population Clock. Retrieved from
  59. Van Camp, T., & De Mesmaecker, V. (2014). Procedural Justice for Victims of Crime—Are Victim Impact Statements and Victim-Offender Mediation Rising to the Challenge? In I. Vanfraechem, A. Pemberton, & F. M. Ndahinda (Eds.), Justice for Victims, Perspectives on Rights, Transition and Reconciliation (pp. 277–299). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  60. Volbert, R. (2012). Geschaedigte im Strafverfahren: Positive Effekte oder Sekundaere Viktimisierung. In S. Barton & R. Koebel (Eds.), Ambivalenzen der Opferzuwendung des Strafrechts: Zwischenbilanz nach einem Vierteljahrhundert opferorientierter Strafrechtspolitik in Deutschland (pp. 197–212). Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  61. Weigend, T. (2011). Germany. In K. Heller & M. Dubber (Eds.), The Handbook of Comparative Criminal Law (pp. 252–287). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Wemmers, J.-A. (1998). Procedural Justice and Dutch Victim Policy. Law & Policy, 20(1), 57–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wemmers, J.-A. (2009). Where Do They Belong? Giving Victims a Place in the Criminal Justice Process. Criminal Law Forum, 20(4), 395–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wergens, A. (2002). The Role and Standing of the Victim in the Face of Criminal Procedure Sweden. Revue internationale de droit pénal/International Review of Penal Law, 73(1), 259–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wexler, D. B. (2000). Therapeutic Jurisprudence: An Overview. Thomas Cooley Law Review, 17, 125–134.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia

Personalised recommendations