1997-98 Academy Text Supplement

Chapter 11

Crisis Intervention Evaluating Crisis Intervention and Other Victim Services

There is a significant lack of research data about the types of crisis services and assistance that are most effective and helpful in serving crime victims. In 1996, the Office for Victims of Crime, in collaboration with researchers at the National Institute of Justice, and leading researchers and practitioners in the field of victimization and victim services, began to address this problem:

The research and evaluation project will include:

Serving Crime Victims and Witnesses

In February of 1997, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) within the U.S. Department of Justice, published the second edition of Serving Crime Victims and Witnesses. The publication updates and expands the first edition of the report that was originally published in 1987. The original edition of Serving Crime Victims and Witnesses contained suggestions regarding victim services program development with detailed descriptions of six programs across the country. The publication was considered one of the most valuable documents available for those starting or expanding victim assistance programs.

As the field continued to expand, it became clear to the U.S. Department of Justice that the report needed to be updated. This was due not only to the significant legislation that had been enacted since the mid-1980's, but also to the need for current data regarding the operation and structure of victim assistance programs. In 1994, by the request of and in close collaboration with the Office for Victims of Crime, NIJ commissioned the second edition of the report. The second edition provides a detailed discussion of strategies for planning, implementing, and refining victim assistance programs.

An important component of many programs is crisis response services. The report summarizes several models for crisis response. According to Serving Crime Victims and Witnesses, each approach generally includes the following steps:

Providing 24-hour crisis intervention is cited in the report as the preferred type of crisis intervention. Such immediate assistance not only benefits crime victims, but increases a program's credibility with law enforcement agencies that must respond to crime victims 24 hours a day.

It is important to note that the report states that not all programs have the capacity to respond on a 24-hour basis, since such services are costly and require a relatively large number of staff or volunteers to maintain an around-the-clock response. The report also states that staff working in such positions are much more susceptible to burnout. As a result of these factors, research conducted for Serving Crime Victims and Witnesses found that the majority of programs contacted for the publication furnish crisis intervention services only during business hours, although some extend the service until 11 p.m. or midnight.

(Tomz, J. & McGillis, D. (1997, February). Serving Crime Victims and Witnesses, 2nd Edition, NCJ-163174. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.)

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