The Provisions on Crime Victims in the Swedish Social Services Act : A Study of their Origins and Purpose

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Lunds universitet/Socialhögskolan

Sammanfattning: Abstract Author: Carina Ljungwald Title: The Social Services’ Provisions on Crime Victims – a study of their origins and purposes Supervisor: Kerstin Svensson In 2001, crime victims were introduced as a target group in the Swedish Social Services Act. Alongside special provisions concerning children, youths, elderly persons, persons with functional impairments, substance abusers and family caregivers, the provisions on support to victims of crime can be found in a separate section (5:11 SoL) in the 5th Chapter of the Act. The purpose of the essay was to enhance the understanding of the origin of the reform. The analysis was based on a sociological approach to law, which assumes that law is contextual and can be related to prevailing ideologies and relations of power. The findings are based on an analysis of the preparatory work to the legal changes in 2001, such as the government bill, referral body statements, motions and the parliamentary debate. In the study the questions were examined: When, where and by whom was the idea of provisions on crime victims in the Social Services Act raised in the preparatory material? Which arguments were presented for and against the provisions in the preparatory material? What was the purpose of the provisions, as expressed in the preparatory material? The result of the study shows that the crime victim committee proposed the idea of provisions on support to crime victims in the Social Services Act in the governmental report “Crime Victims: What have been done? What should be done?” in 1998. The explicit purpose of the provisions, as expressed in the governmental bill “Support to Crime Victims”, was to clarify the social services responsibility to support crime victims and that active work should be done in this respect. The provisions were mainly argued for and justified by referring to shortcomings in the social services work with crime victims. The main argument against the provisions in the legislative process was that that detailed or target-group oriented provisions can affect the design or fundamental values of the Social Services Act. The result in this study is both consistent and inconsistent with research on crime victim policy in countries. Similar to the United Kingdom, it is, for instance, difficult to find elements of the United States’ crime victim policy orientation, such as offender punishment and sharper penalties. The strategy to improve the situation for crime victims is rather focused on service, support and attitude changes. The preparatory material also show that the provisions on crime victims in the Social Services Act are linked to efforts to confront men’s violence against women. This is a sharp contrast to inner policy circles centered on crime victims in the United Kingdom, where woman’s organizations were almost absent from the inner policy circles centered on crime victims.

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