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NCJ Number: 201865 Find in a Library
Title: Attrition in Rape Cases: Developing a Profile and Identifying Relevant Factors
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:43  Issue:3  Dated:Summer 2003  Pages:583-599
Author(s): Susan J. Lea; Ursula Lanvers; Steve Shaw
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 17
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This study developed a profile of rape cases within a Constabulary in the southwest of England in order to identify factors associated with attrition (the process whereby cases drop out of the criminal justice system at one of a number of potential points of exit from that system).
Abstract: All cases of rape or attempted rape reported to the Constabulary were examined for the 5-year period from January 1, 1996, to December 31, 2000. A total of 471 cases were identified through the Central Intelligence System, consisting of 410 female rape cases, 19 male rape cases, 40 attempted female rape cases, and 2 attempted male rape cases. Data were also collected through a questionnaire that was sent to the senior investigating officer who had dealt with each of the cases. A total of 371 questionnaires were returned; and 379 cases of rape and attempted rape composed the final sample. The findings indicate that the attrition of rape cases is still very high, with just under 10 percent leading to some type of conviction and only 5 percent resulting in a conviction under the charge of rape. The high rate of police decisions to take "no further action" (NFA) seems to be driven by a number of factors. First, many cases are "NFA-ed" due to lack of evidence. In rape cases, the obtaining of sufficient evidence for an effective prosecution is difficult due to the nature of the crime. Second, intimidation of the victim by the suspect often results in the failure of the victim to cooperate in the investigation. In terms of the factors associated with the attrition of rape cases, it was found that only the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator was related to attrition. Reforms that have aimed to reduce the number of decisions by police officers or prosecutors that no crime has been committed have had the intended effect, and many police officers who participated in this study were committed to supporting rape victims; however, not enough is being done within the criminal justice system for rape victims. Future research on attrition in rape cases should facilitate the planning and development of further reform within the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the courts. Closer collaboration between police investigators and prosecutors in rape cases and a greater understanding of rape victims, particularly by attorneys and judges, are the main areas that require further reform. 2 figures and 24 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Case dismissal; Case management; Case processing; Foreign criminal justice research; Foreign criminal justice systems; Police decisionmaking; Police discretion; Prosecutorial discretion; Rape; Rape investigations
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