Victimization studies, which became popular in the 1970s, are largely based on surveys of the population. As of the late 1980s, the potential for internationally comparable surveys emerged with the first round of the International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS). Starting from early international studies and using the ICVS as a prominent example, an examination of the characteristics of victimization surveys is given, both in terms of content and methodology, their potential and limits, which make them suitable for international use. Multi-country surveys can provide indications from different countries about major crime problems, the most vulnerable population groups at risk of victimization, and perceptions and opinions about fear of crime and the performance of delegated authorities. Victimization surveys initially covered several types of conventional crime directly experienced by respondents and progressively expanded and specialized to measure bribery and corruption, both among individuals and businesses, as well as violence against women through dedicated surveys.
Considering that surveys are an effective tool to measure crime and victims’ perceptions where institutional capacity is weak, the possibility to bridge knowledge gaps and engage developing countries has been identified as a major potential. Despite some methodological challenges, further use and expansion of victimization surveys is in progress (e.g., for measuring some indicators for Sustainable Development Goals [SDG]).