An annual conference of the European Society of Criminology (ESC) took place on 8-10 September 2021. This year’s conference was once more held online due to the ongoing pandemic. The Violence Lab organised 2 panels with total of 8 presentations (4 presentations per panel). Presentations were given by 9 Violence Lab team members.
This year, the first Violence Research Lab panel introduced four challenging topics from the field of criminology: violence during a pandemic, community policing, forensics in criminal proceedings, and economic costs of crime. Although at first glance seemingly different, these four topics provide authentic insight into the key features of criminal policy as well as criminology: prevention, detection, phenomenology, and consequences of violence. This panel attempted to answer some of the ‘burning’ questions such as: how to prevent crime through community, in which manner can forensics assist in more accurate detection of violence, did, and if yes, in which way, pandemic changed the phenomenology of crime and finally, what are the costs of crime? This panel gathered experts from different fields of study sharing one scientific focus – violence which resulted in cooperation through a unique scientific project “Croatian Violence Monitor – A Study of the Phenomenology, Etiology, and Prosecution of Delinquent Violence with Focus on Protecting Particularly Vulnerable Groups of Victims" funded by Croatian Science Foundation.
Violence Lab 1 panel
The aim of this presentation is to draw attention to the understanding and prevention of violence in general and particularly physical violence according to Community Policing. Community Policing implies that violence and criminal behavior is not just a problem and responsibility of the police, but society shares responsibility with the police for the prevention of violence and criminal behavior. For example, violence and infliction of grievous bodily harm is both police and public health problem, but also a social one. The police determine the circumstances of committing criminal acts, medical staff deal with the manner of infliction of injury, type of injury, etc., but only teamwork can be more effective in understanding and preventing violence. In other words, teamwork and the exchange of information and knowledge are prerequisites for the effective and applicable prevention of criminal behavior and violence. A good example of the joint work of the police, health care institutions, and other social stakeholders in the Cardiff Violence Prevention Model.
Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminalistics, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb
Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminalistics, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb
Proper assessment and documenting of physical injuries are recognized among legal medicine experts as an important factor for expert opinion formation, as this can be crucial information that proves or disproves a violent act and other facts related to the event. Due to this, legal medicine experts have issued guidelines for documenting the bodily injuries of victims of certain specific violent acts. However, the reality in most cases is that doctors of different clinical professions examine victims first and often these initial medical records are the only medical records available as evidence later in the course of judicial proceedings. Unfortunately, very often clinical doctors are unaware of the importance of good medical records for efficient judicial proceedings. Here we will present the most frequent obstacles arising from inadequate medical records together with several cases that illustrate the problem.
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law
This paper will analyse the influence of the imposed COVID-19 restrictions on the decrease and/or increase of violence in Croatia. COVID-19 pandemic brought significant changes in our lives, not only in regards to health issues but also restrictions regarding human rights such as freedom of movement and economic activates. All of the above provided huge changes in legal and illegal activities. Analysing statistical data on criminal activities in Croatia in 2020, the author will try to detect criminal offenses that have suffered a drastic decrease in their occurrence, as well as criminal activities which faced an increase. The main focus of the paper will be answering the following question: did the pandemic year changed the incidence and structure of violence in Croatia?
Institute of Economics, Zagreb
Understanding and assessing the harm of crime to society is one of the critical issues of public policy and the fight against crime. Social scientists have made great strides in recent decades in demystifying the monetary costs of crime to society. The costs must be taken into account when deciding whether it is necessary to adjust the security and surveillance system, the criminal justice system, the prison system, and the rehabilitation system of perpetrators. Namely, in an imaginary world where the committed criminal offense costs society nothing, one would question the need for all the mentioned systems. Direct costs of crime (i.e., the estimated or reported damage) are just the tip of the iceberg. Researchers should include other costs representing significant burden to society, including psychological costs on victims, their labor market outcomes, etc. Without knowing the real costs of crime in a society, it is impossible to estimate the efficient allocation of resources towards combating crime.
The second panel of Violence Research Lab introduced four challenging topics from the field of criminology: domestic violence, domestic violence during a pandemic, mass shootings in the USA, and violent extremism. Domestic violence has been a constant global issue for the last several decades. However, lately, a question arose whether criminal law is the most adequate mechanism for preventing this type of violence. These questions became even more relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic when the issue of prevention policy of domestic violence became even more challenging. Following several recent violent events encouraged public discussions regarding another phenomenon – violent extremism. These discussions strive to answer the fundamental question: how to develop security indicators of this behavior and prevent catastrophic events before they occur? Similarly to this, the frequency of mass shootings in the USA continues to puzzle experts and laymen alike. This panel again gathers experts from different fields of study sharing one scientific focus – violence which resulted in cooperation through a unique scientific project “Croatian Violence Monitor – A Study of the Phenomenology, Etiology, and Prosecution of Delinquent Violence with Focus on Protecting Particularly Vulnerable Groups of Victims" funded by Croatian Science Foundation.
Violence Lab 2 panel
Criminal law has always been the first target of the public, experts and even scientists when it comes to severe cases of domestic violence. Higher penalties for perpetrators and greater protection of victims are constantly sought, and everyone is repeatedly pointing the finger at criminal justice for its ineffective system in combating domestic violence. However, the question arises as to whether criminal law should be a fundamental mechanism by which the prevention of domestic violence is strengthened? Are we placing too much burden and unrealistic expectations on criminal law while neglecting some other social mechanisms at the same time? Given the etiology of domestic violence, as well as research which shook the confidence in the preventive effect of criminal law, it seems that solutions need to be sought elsewhere.
Police College, Zagreb, Croatia
Domestic violence in the Republic of Croatia in the first pandemic year: are there differences in the trends?
During the pandemic, the biggest focus was on preserving the health system, and due to its overload, individuals in need of treatment were denied adequate health care. The consequences of certain measures taken to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are visible through the restriction of physical and social contacts, rising unemployment, deprivation of adequate health care. In families with disturbed family relationships, there is a certain increased risk of violence against women, but also violence against other vulnerable family members such as children, the elderly or people with disabilities. The question of whether there has been a change in the trend of domestic violence in Croatia during 2020 has arisen. From the analysed data of misdemeanors of domestic violence and the criminal offense of domestic violence in 2020, a decrease in the number of victims of total punishable offenses of domestic violence was recorded. However, if all criminal offenses that are most often committed with violent behaviour in the family or between close persons are taken into account, in 2020 an increase in criminal offenses was recorded.
The Office of the National Security Council in Croatia
In recent times, radicalisation process is starting to pose a serious security threat. As such, it became a focus of political discussions, specifically due to the direct national security threat it represents. Until recently, research regarding radicalisation and extremism was focused on terrorism, and were in that sense seen as something external. After the event that occurred in October in 2020 at the St. Mark’s Square in Zagreb, Croatia, the topic of radicalisation began to occupy not only the experts but laymen as well. Almost overnight, discerning processes which lead to violent extremism and/or terrorism became paramount. However, considering divisions in the society (that is more often than not enforced by political parties), extreme situations where certain individuals show their support or disagreement in violent manner is to be expected. Therefore, it is up to modern society and its members to develop a system through which it will be possible to develop security indicators of this behavior and prevent catastrophic events before they occur. This presentation will showcase certain processes that lead to radicalism, (violent) extremism, and terrorism, as well as a proactive approach that can mitigate the risk this behavior poses.
University in Zagreb, Faculty of Law
Whenever an issue of mass shootings occurs, and especially when it happens in a country as developed and as progressive as the USA, the main question that arises is “Who is to blame?" Two psychological theories are the most cited ones; “aggression as learned behaviour” theory and “frustration – aggression – displacement” theory. In order to understand the actions of an individual, one needs to take into consideration what kind of people they are, but also what they have been taught. When it comes to school shootings, many are quick to blame the culture of bullying. Although many shooter’s personal histories do indicate that this theory might be one of the most relevant ones, it still doesn’t account for the fact that bullying occurs all over the world, not just in the USA. So, why is this phenomenon so prevalent in this country in particular? Is it possible that the sheer accessibility of guns in the USA the main, if not the only, cause? Or perhaps the issue runs deeper than that?