22nd Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology – Malaga (from September 21st until September 24th 2022).

22nd Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology – Malaga (from September 21st until September 24th 2022).

Malaga, Spain
Sep, 21, 2022

22nd Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology was held in Malaga from September 21st until September 24th 2022. An official title of this year’s Conference was „Challenges and opportunities in a virtually and physically connected Europe: The need for criminology “. The Violence Lab organised 2 panels with total of 8 presentations (4 presentations per panel). Presentations were given by 8 Violence Lab team members.

Domestic violence was the main topic of the first Violence Research Lab panel. Violence Lab team members talked about challenges within criminal proceedings of domestic violence cases, such as the criteria for the classification of domestic violence, the institute of spousal immunity used in domestic violence cases, and fines as a sanction for domestic violence. The last presentation discussed the link between media violence and physically aggressive behavior among children.

The research focus of the second Violence Research Lab panel was physical assault and homicide. First two presentation provided forensic medicine perspective of key issues in cases of establishing ‘psychical trauma’ as the unnatural/violent cause of death in situations of a stress death, and in cases where motor vehicles served as a tool of physical assault. Remaining two presentations provided a new criminological perspective on violence research and key methodological tools for capturing true violence, presented the first findings of the Balkan Homicide Study, and gave insight into the dark figure of physical violence.

Violence Lab’s ESC 2022 presentations:

Violence Research Lab 1

(ESC Working Group “European Violence Monitor”)

Chair: Reana Bezić

Presentation 1
Reana Bezić
University in Zagreb, Faculty of Law
Fine as a sanction in domestic violence – who do we punish?
The question of the meaningfulness and efficiency of a fine in violent crime cases is one of the topics that often comes to focus among legal experts, criminologists, sociologists, but also among the general public. This issue is particularly important in cases of domestic violence in which the whole family is often ‘punished’ by imposing a fine, therefore the preventive effect of punishment is clearly lacking. The presentation will deal with this topic from a normative and practical perspective. Normative refers to the prevention success of fines in cases of domestic violence, and practice provides an insight into the practical challenges of imposing fines in the Croatian criminal justice system, as well as statistical characteristics of the imposed fines in the Republic of Croatia

Presentation 2
Petra Šprem
University in Zagreb, Faculty of Law
Spousal immunity in cases of domestic violence – criminal law perspective
Although criminal law is often expected to be highly punitive in cases of domestic violence, a major challenge in criminal proceedings is spousal immunity which often prevents the judicial system to be effective. This presentation aims to answer the following: what is the ratio behind spousal immunity, why is it possible in cases of domestic violence, how often do victims ask for the spousal immunity, and what are the pros and cons of such an institute? The presentation will provide ideas for alternatives and solutions within criminal procedure law which can carefully balance the advantages and disadvantages of the mentioned institute.

Presentation 3
Lucija Sokanović
University of Split, Faculty of Law
Criminal liability for domestic violence– matter of bad luck or?
Domestic violence in Croatia can be qualified as a criminal offense (Art. 179.a of the Criminal Code) or misdemeanour (Art. 10. of the Law on Protection from Family Violence). The first encompasses seriously violating the regulations on protection against domestic violence and thus causing fear for the safety of his or her family member or a close person or putting him or her in a degrading position, thus not committing other serious criminal offenses. The second includes any act of physical violence without inflicting injury, corporal punishment, or other humiliating treatment of children, mental abuse, sexual harassment, economic violence, and negligence toward the elderly or disabled. The aim of this research is to determine whether final qualification relies on the potential superficial assessment of police officers or strict legal provisions. The research answers the questions of whether current legal provisions are consistent with “nullum crimen sine lege certa” and what is the role of case law in determining liability for domestic violence.

Presentation 4
Karlo Bojčić
University of J. J. Strossmayer in Osijek,Faculty of humanities and social sciences
The role of media in the development of physically aggressive behaviour among children
This presentation analyses pertinent scientific findings on the role of media in the development of physically aggressive behaviour among children. There is an ongoing scholarly debate that exposure to violent media could lead to physically aggressive behaviour, which stems from contradictory research studies on the impact of media on the aggressive behaviour of children. We aim to provide an interpretation of scientific evidence that could relate media violence to real-life physical aggression from the perspective of prominent theories, such as Social Learning Theory, Desensitization Theory and Third-Person Effect Theory. Given the negative consequences of children’s physically aggressive behaviour and proneness to future problem behaviours like alcohol or drug abuse, violent crimes, suicide attempts and family abuse, it is important to address every relevant developmental risk factor, including the media. One of the preventive educational potentials should be promoting media literacy as a protective factor against the negative or harmful effects of media messages on children.

Violence Research Lab 2
(ESC Working Group “European Violence Monitor”)
Chair: Marija Baković

Presentation 1
Marija Baković
Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminalistics School of Medicine, University of Zagreb
Davor Mayer
Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminalistics School of Medicine, University of Zagreb
Establishing ‘psychical trauma’ (stress death) as the unnatural/violent cause of death
The interplay of physical and mental conditions is something we have all experienced at least once in our lives but is the connection strong enough to declare it the cause of death – in other words, can we connect stress and emotion with a fatal outcome? Research to date has shown that emotions can very well affect premature cardiac death and the three strongest emotions associated with sudden cardiac death are anger, fear, and anxiety. It is therefore not surprising that disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and missile and terror attacks are associated with an increase in cardiovascular events and death. However, what about criminal acts that were not directly aimed to cause injury and death to victims but in the end, result in death due to the preexisting condition of the victim during or soon after the violent criminal act? In such cases, establishing the strong connection between the criminal act and the death of the victim that has no/very few injuries is vital for the potential criminal prosecution of the case. Here we will present to you the process of determining ‘psychical trauma’ (stress death) as the unnatural/violent cause of death in such circumstances and present several cases.

Presentation 2
Davor Mayer
Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminalistics School of Medicine, University of Zagreb
Marija Baković
Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminalistics School of Medicine, University of Zagreb
Motor vehicle as a tool of physical assault
In the contemporary world, the use of a motor vehicle as a tool for assault became a widely recognized mode of terrorist attacks – the act also known as vehicle ramming. However, motor vehicles can also be used to intentionally injure human targets in various incidents, with domestic disputes, intimate partner violence, and attacks on law enforcement officers being some of them. It is very likely that each of those cases will become the subject of criminal investigation often encompassing medicolegal expert opinion-making. Such expert opinions, aimed to evaluate victims’ injuries but also to assess the hypothetic outcomes for the victims, are preferably made by forensic medicine specialists. Herein we present the series of expert opinions dealing with such cases from the authors’ archives, demonstrating the range of circumstances under which such events arise (excluding the terrorist attacks), as well as the medicolegal analysis of their consequences.

Presentation 3
Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law
Petra Šprem
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law
First findings from the Balkan Homicide Study
Balkan Homicide Study is an empirical research study of homicides conducted from 2016 to 2019 across the Balkan region. The study analyses around 3,000 (attempted & completed) homicide cases from Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, and Slovenia. The main aim of this empirical research is to analyze the most severe violent crimes and, among others, to test (un)founded stereotypes about Balkan as a particularly violent and ‘wild’ European region. The first part of this presentation will tackle terminological challenges regarding the use of the term ‘violence’ in empirical research. It will also strive to detangle a conceptual knot of violence by looking at it as an empirical reality rather than merely a normative category. The second part of this presentation will provide an insight into key findings on homicides across the region usually perceived as brutally violent.
Presentation 4
Ruža Karlović
Police College in Zagreb, Police Academy of the Ministry of the Interior
The insight into the dark figure of physical violence through interviews with representatives of relevant professions
This research aims to analyse the dark number of physical violence by examining the phenomenology of unreported physical violence to understand its reality and the context of this phenomenon. The study involved 21 respondents divided into 4 groups. Interviews were conducted with social welfare officers, health professionals, and representatives of the education and security sectors. These occupations were chosen because they are very often in contact with victims of physical violence whom the victims do not necessarily report. Employees of this type have insight into the above. After each interview, the recordings are accessible only to the research team and transcribed. Transcript analysis will be organized and performed in Atlas.ti qualitative data analysis software. Respondents were asked the following questions: Do they have any experience with violence and/or the process of reporting violence? Is it always evident in their profession what the situations are when violence needs to be reported? Is there a straightforward procedure for reporting violence in their institution? Are there protocols for reporting violence? How challenging is the process of reporting violence in their sector, and why? How can protocols and procedures for reporting violence to be improved? Based on their professional experience, do they consider unreported violence a severe problem? The results are being processed at the time of writing an abstract.