A Sample Criminology Paper on Victimology Theories

Last Updated: 03 July 2023

The Coursework Question: One of the aims of the Abu Dhabi policing strategy is to provide a good quality of service to ALL victims of crime. Critically analyze this aim in relation to competing and contrasting theories of victimology.



A substantial amount of victimology and thus criminology literature advice that individuals who adopt risky lifestyles and engage in dangerous routine activities are more predisposed to becoming victims of a crime (Averdijk, 2010: 125; Rydberg and Pizarro, 2014: 343; Taylor et al., 2008 1442). The activities that one engages in for leisure, their job, their relationships and environments all relate to the individual's risk of victimization. Among the many impacts of victimization include financial, psychological, and emotional effects as well as secondary victimization among others (Lee, 2015: 200).

The essay supports the unified argument by Lee (2015:200-201), Taylor et al. (2008 1442), and Averdijk (2010: 126) that when the suitable guardian is absent, the rate of victimization increases and that certain routines increase the chances of one becoming a victim. Therefore, this essay begins with a critical analysis and discussion of the two conventional theories of victimology: lifestyle and the routine activities theory. The paper then takes a twist through the examination of the policing strategies used by Abu Dhabi Police to assess whether they are in tandem with their objective of offering quality services to the victims, referring to the two theories.

Discussion and Critical Analysis of Theories of Victimology

Routine Activities Theory

The routine activities theory of victimization anchors on the rationale that some situations better reflect the typical habits of individuals, thus a rise in the rate of their victimization. The theory explains how an individual's behavioral patterns and their corresponding intersections I space and time influence the place and time of their victimization (Vakhitova, Reynald, and Townsley, 2015: 5). According to (Holtfretter, Reisig, And Pratt, 2008: 193) three components must interact in space and time for the probability of victimization to increase: the motivated offenders, the absence of a capable guardian, and suitable targets. In this case, males, minorities, and single persons are likely to be victimized (Holtfreter, Reisig, and Pratt, 2008: 193; ). The theory also postulates that the probability of victimization upsurges with the routine activities of individuals such as work, shopping patterns, lifestyle and recreation among others.

Unlike other theories of victimology, the routine activities theory not only stretches to cover the characteristics of the offenders but also examines the macro-level context of the crime to determine the rate of victimization (Pizarro, Corsaro, and Yu, 2007: 376). Therefore, the theory is a theory of place and can be used for predicting and mapping crime hotspots as well as strategy formulation by the law enforcement agencies (McNeeley, 2014: 30; Miller, 2012: 395).

Furthermore, the theory also gives a macro and micro level analysis of crime and can be useful in determining and explaining the trends in local, regional, and global rates of crime (McNeeley, 2014: 31). As an approach to explaining victimization, the routine activities theory has received applicability in the understanding of deviant behaviors and how they are connected to crime at the individual level (Miller, 2012: 393). Additionally, the model aids the law enforcement agencies in the digital age to determine and combat cybercrime such as cyberbullying and stalking among others, in the process deciphering the motives of the offenders and creating a high alert for the capable guardians (Vakhitova, Reynald, and Townsley, 2015: 1-3).

Despite being competent in explaining victimization, the routine activities theory has criticisms of various foundations. First off, Siegel (2007:81) contends that the theory fails to consider the correlation between the offenders and the victims being that it is place-based and lays emphasis on who is vulnerable rather than the offenders. Secondly, most scholars have also criticized the theory on grounds that it assumes that the presence of the motivated offenders authentically leads to victimization when in actual sense the motivations of the offenders vary by individual (Messner et al., 2007: 515).

Lastly, the theory fails to provide critically an explanation of the role of the circumstances under which the suitable targets and motivated offenders converge in the absence of a capable guardian (Messner et al., 2007: 516). For instance, in the case of cyberbullying, the theory does not give an account of the circumstances that lead to the victimization of the suitable targets, and it also does not explain the capable guardians as well as the conditions that render their inexistence (Miller, 2012: 415). On the same note, research has shown that individual differences also determine how easy one commits a crime (Schreck and Fisher, 2004: 1026). For example, the exposure to persons who are ex-convicts raises the risk of one becoming a victim.

Lifestyle Theory

According to (McNeeley, 2014: 32)the lifestyle theory maintains that there are different rates of victimization across different demographic groups owing to different lifestyles led by individuals in these groups. An individual’s lifestyle influences their victimization depending on the extent to which their lifestyles bring them together with the potential offenders in high-risk places (McNeeley, 2014: 31; Rydberg and Pizarro, 2014: 343). Furthermore, the people who can intervene; guardians, are also locked out by some of the lifestyles rendering them useless during the crime. In essence, the theory is akin to routine activities theory but instead, it covers up for the gaps in the latter (McNeeley, 2014: 33; Rydberg and Pizarro, 2014: 361). For that matter, most of the recent studies have combined the two into Lifestyle-Routine Activities Theory (LRAT) to explain crime and victimization (Schreck and Fisher, 2004: 1027; Vakhitova, Reynald, and Townsley, 2015: 2-4; McNeeley, 2014: 30) comprehensively.

As aforementioned, the lifestyle theory fills the gap existing in the routine activities theory in explaining victimization. To illustrate, the principle of homogamy in the lifestyle theory posits that individuals who share social conditions and daily lives with risk offenders are at a hugely disproportionate risk of being victimized (Schreck and Fisher, 2004: 1026; Rydberg and Pizarro, 2014: 363). Furthermore, the theory supplements the routine activities theory through identifying some of the risk factors such as age, sex, marital status, gender, occupation, and shopping patterns among others and how they connect to the motivations of the offenders to victimize the victims.

Just like the routine activities theory, lifestyle theory also has grounds for criticisms. First off, the theory fails in addressing the victims altogether; much of its focus is on the risk factors and the correlation there is between the risk factors and the victimization (Taylor et al., 2008:1445). For instance, it only explains why being close to delinquent friends makes one more vulnerable to crime, but fails to explore the characteristics of the victim that can make the friendship work for their advantage (Taylor et al., 2008: 1463). Scholars such as (Schreck and Fisher (2004: 1027); Vakhitova, Reynald and Townsley (2015: 2-4), and  McNeeley (2014: 30) have criticized the lifestyle theory on empirical basis stating that it lacks substantial empirical support. Consequently, the scholars are championing for its integration with the routine activities theory for the complete explanation of the correlation between lifestyle and the rates of victimization. Nonetheless, a better understanding of the two theories alludes to a deeper and well-informed approach towards victimization even in the wake of digital media and its similar crimes as well as deciphering the common offenses such as burglary and homicides among others.

Abu Dhabi’s Policing Strategy and Quality Service to All Victims of Crime

Abu Dhabi Police was established in 1957, and its vision is to provide high-quality services to the citizens, visitors, and residents (ADP)(2016). The institution is committed to working towards a safe community, the achievement of stability, and reduction of crime rates through the implementation of justice to establish and maintain public trust and confidence (ADP)(2016). A few cases depict whether  Abu Dhabi Police is oriented to its policing strategy. First off, the

An instance happened in the UAE where Sheikh Issa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan brutally tortured his business associate Mr. Poor with the assistance of a man in a police uniform (Harris, 2010). In this case, Sheikh is the motivated offender, Mr. Poor is the suitable target, and the police ought to have been the capable guardian as postulated by the routine activity theory. However, the convergence of the offender and the suitable target takes place in the presence of the capable guardian, the police officer, who could have prevented the convergence. Therefore, the Abu Dhabi Police policing strategy deviates from the provision of quality service to the victims. Rather, the police take the offender role and sides with the perpetrator to make the climate for victimization very prime (Harris, 2010). Furthermore, the police do shoddy investigations that predispose the victims to repeat victimization as they abandon their role of mediating between the offender and the victims, them being the capable guardians.

In the UAE Victim blaming has taken root a great deal. The shoddy investigations are done by the police when Norwegian Interior Designer Marte Deborah Dalev has been raped, a clear indication that capable guardians have failed in their role (Goulding and O'Sullivan, 2016). Consequently, the victim blaming could lead to high rates of victimization due to reoffending by the suspects or even secondary victimization by the other people. Furthermore, victim blaming also slows access to the police making it harder for the victims to report the crime. As a result, the lifestyles of people in the UAE such as being an interior designer or a foreigner makes them a victim (Goulding and O'Sullivan, 2016).

On the same note, the penal code in the UAE does not take into account domestic violence and thus the rise in the rate of spousal assaults in the country (Neville, 2016). Again, this means that those that are married are more likely to be repeatedly victimized by the offenders who are motivated by the law and the unwillingness of the police capable guardians to intervene during the convergence of the victims and the offenders. Still, on the same, there are some myths held within the UAE that make the police shy from investigating rape (Neville, 2016). One of such a myth is that when a woman is raped she is charged with extramarital sex (Neville, 2016). In this sense, the victims cannot engage in their daily activities as they are seen as potential targets. Therefore, the Abu Dhabi Policing strategy is far from providing quality services to the victims.

The conditions in the UAE lucidly indicate that the policing strategy being used by the police is not effective in providing quality services to the victims. The issue of access to the police could be affected by the prevailing situations. According to the ICDL GCC report, children using computers are the primary victims of cyberbullying (The National Staff, 2016). The lifestyle of the students in the UAE, therefore, determine the rate of victimization, something the police are not looking into to decipher the problem and intervene. As a matter of fact, only 13% of the total victims report the cases to the police (The National Staff, 2013). The rest are probably not willing to report for fear that nothing will be done on the part of the police to protect them from further victimization or prevent future victimization. The police who, according to the routine activities theory are capable guardians should take a step to attend to the victims falling prey of cyber crimes in the UAE.


The lifestyle and routine activities theories of victimology better explain why different lifestyles and prevailing conditions predispose one to be a victim of various types of crime. Some of the lifestyles such as shopping patterns, leisure activities, occupation, and recreation among others define whether or not an individual becomes a potential victim of a crime. The routine activities theory shows how the offender, suitable target, and capable guardian interact, in a bid to explain rates of victimization. Abu Dhabi’s policing strategy is to provide quality services to the victims of all crimes. However, this is not the case for offenses such as rape, physical assault, and cybercrime are underscored by law enforcement agencies. The police therefore in their actions, heighten the chances of such crimes as rape, assaults, domestic violence. Consequently, there is a need for the Abu Dhabi police to understand their role in victimization so as to address adequately all the inadequacies that are threatening the realization of its objective of providing quality services to all victims.


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