Conclusion

The impact of crime on the individual victim is profound but is frequently underestimated by mental health professionals. Wide-ranging personal, social, and economic consequences could be prevented if a range of appropriate interventions were available. Most existing treatment programmes in the United Kingdom have developed in response to specific disasters, which may not be relevant to or as effective with crime victims. In order to provide appropriate treatment to crime victims, mental health professionals need to recognize the importance of active interagency liaison with the police, the courts, and victim support schemes. Crime victims tend to be relatively invisible and disempowered; they are less likely to be supported by active campaigning groups than survivors of major disasters and, because of associated feelings of shame and stigmatization, may be reluctant to claim their entitlement to proper care and treatment. The fact that their plight is often used as a political football is likely to reinforce feelings of helplessness and insecurity. Given its prevalence, crime represents both an ordinary and an extraordinary event; it is likely to affect everyone at some point in their lives and the fact that most crime victims recover from the experience should not deprive the minority of access to proper care.

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