In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Repeat Victimization

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Early Works
  • The Kirkholt Burglary Prevention Project
  • Explanatory Theory
  • Repeat Offenders Committing Repeat Victimization
  • Measurement Issues
  • Views and Experiences of Victims
  • Time-Course and Life-Course Studies
  • Policing Strategy and Practice
  • Guides for Practitioners

Criminology Repeat Victimization
Louise Nicholas, Graham Farrell
  • LAST REVIEWED: 07 May 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0119


Repeat victimization refers to the repeated criminal victimization of a person, household, place, business, vehicle or other target however defined. Near repeat victimization or near repeats refer to targets with similar characteristics or situations (also virtual repeats). Repeats can be the same or different crime types. It is generally accepted that a small proportion of any population of potential targets experience a vastly disproportionate amount of the crime because they are repeatedly victimized. Even within the population of repeats, a smaller set of supertargets experience chronic crime. The significance for many policy purposes, but particularly crime prevention, is that a focus upon repeats can greatly increase the efficiency with which resources are used. Most repeat victimization research relates to how it can be prevented, so crime prevention is the backdrop for much of this bibliography. There were a limited number of studies in the 1970s, with the field developing mainly from the late 1980s onward in the wake of the Kirkholt Burglary Prevention Project, which successfully targeted repeat burglaries for prevention. This spurred other prevention efforts and a broader range of research into the extent and nature of repeat victimization, including methodological studies. Among the more widespread indicators of impact in this area of research is the fact that it is now normal for studies to incorporate a measure of repeat victimization because previous practice of focusing only on the number of crimes as “the crime rate” is known to be frequently misleading. In the 1990s and 2000s there were a series of efforts, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States, to incorporate the prevention of repeat victimization into mainstream policy and practice. Good practice guides for policing were developed in both countries. In the United Kingdom, repeat victimization was formally incorporated as a key performance measure for policing and each of that country’s police forces was obliged to develop and implement a policy on repeat victimization prevention. Many victim services organizations sought to change their orientation by providing advice on preventing further victimization rather than the traditional practice of reassuring victims that crime was less likely to happen to them again. In recent years, the role of repeats in high crime area hot spots and similar concentrations of crime is increasingly apparent. There is an increasing incorporation of key concepts such as hot products, risky facilities, hot places and hot routes, into repeat victimization research as it has become clear that they are related forms of repeats or near repeats, including repeats of the same or different crime types. This evolving theoretical and conceptual integration should be to the long-term benefit of crime prevention efforts that seek to address crime’s highly repetitive nature and tendency to concentrate along whichever dimension it is measured. As repeat victimization has become an integral component of many “general” studies of crime, increased cherry picking was necessary to maintain the bibliography’s parameters, and so while conscious of some exclusion, we welcome comments and suggestions for revision.

General Overviews

The reviews included here are mostly accessible to all readerships. They make clear links between the research, policy, and practice. DeValve 2004 and Summers 2010 are brief but useful introductions to the field for readers with little time. Pease 1998 is a frequently cited classic by the scholar who directed the Kirkholt burglary project and who drove much of the research in this field. Menard 2000 shows the normality of repeat victimization among youth in the United States using large sets of US data, thereby conveying the importance of study in this area. The “story” of repeat victimization research is told in Laycock 2001, written by the senior government researcher in the United Kingdom who oversaw much of the research in the 1980s and 1990s. The recent review article by Belgian academic Tom Daems 2005 locates repeat victimization research in the broader context of criminological and victimological study. Lamm Weisel 2005 is a problem-oriented guide to preventing repeat victimization published by the US Department of Justice to give a flavor of the practical orientation of repeat victimization research.

  • Daems, Tom. 2005. Repeat victimisation and the study of social control International Journal of the Sociology of Law 33.2: 85–100.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijsl.2005.03.001

    A clearly written review of the growth of knowledge relating to repeat victimization. The study locates this body of work relating to victims in the context of other criminological knowledge such as that on recidivism.

  • DeValve, Beth. 2004. Repeat victimization: An overview and assessment of its usefulness for crime. ACJS Today 29.1.

    This three-page summary provides a clear introduction to repeat victimization research, policy, and crime prevention issues and is accessible to all readers.

  • Lamm Weisel, Deborah. 2005. Analyzing repeat victimization. Problem-Oriented Guide for Police, Problem-Solving Tools series 4. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

    Practical guide to identifying, analyzing, and addressing repeat victimization, designed to be used by police for local-level problems.

  • Laycock, Gloria. 2001. Hypothesis-based research: The repeat victimization story. Criminology and Criminal Justice 1:59–82.

    DOI: 10.1177/1466802501001001004

    Tracks the development of repeat victimization research and policy from the 1980s onward. It uses case studies in telling the story of how research, policy and practice developed hand-in-hand.

  • Menard, Scott. 2000. The “normality” of repeat victimization from adolescence through early childhood. Justice Quarterly 17.3: 543–574.

    DOI: 10.1080/07418820000094661

    Uses the National Youth Survey to examine the distribution of repeat victimization by age, gender, and ethnicity from 1976 to 1992.

  • Pease, Ken. 1998. Repeat victimisation: Taking stock. Crime detection and prevention series 90. London: Home Office.

    A clear introduction covering patterns and trends, key research, and policy implications. It also introduces the concepts of virtual and near repeats.

  • Summers, L. 2010. Virtual repeats and near repeats. In Encyclopedia of victimology and crime prevention. Edited by B. Fisher and S. Lab, 1043–1047. Los Angeles: SAGE.

    A clear and concise encyclopedia article providing an excellent introduction to near repeats.

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