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In severe circumstances, where the victimisation is ongoing, this may lead to the victim making themselves as invisible as possible to try and reduce the potential for violence and abuse (Chahal and Julienne, 1999). Victims’ identities can also influence the ways in which agencies of the criminal justice system respond to their victimisation. In the aftermath of the inadequate and misguided police response to the murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence, a report by Lord Macpherson labelled the police as institutionally racist, thereby suggesting that Black victims might experience inappropriate, poor and/or discriminatory treatment from the police.

The US Department of Justice, for instance, advocates the use of tension indicators to help assess the likely reaction to particular types of police intervention at particular moments in time. The following types of indicators can be used: a rise in racist attacks, a rise in racist graffiti, a rise in racist activity on the internet, and a rise in the activities of the far right. Tupman and O’Reilly (2004) suggest that a similar approach can be utilised in relation to counter-terrorism policing activities, so that police intervention can be assessed and future policy drawn up in relation to indicators that help to measure the likelihood of terrorism-related backlashes, using measures such as a rise in anti-westerner or anti-foreigner attacks or graffiti, or a rise in the activities of militias.

Calhoun (ed) Social theory and the politics of identity, Oxford: Blackwell, pp 9–36. Castells, M. (2004) The power of identity (2nd edn), Oxford: Blackwell. Chahal, K. and Julienne, L. (1999) We can’t all be white, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation/York Publishing Services. Chesneaux, J. (1992) Brave modern world:The prospects for survival, Slovenia:Thames and Hudson. Chigwada-Bailey, R. (1997) Black women’s experiences of criminal justice: A discourse on disadvantage, Winchester: Waterside Press.

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