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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70330 Find in a Library
Title: Policing the Age of Consent
Journal: Journal of Adolescence  Volume:2  Issue:1  Dated:(1979)  Pages:1-49
Author(s): R I Mawby
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 9
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: That British police do not prosecute 60 to 90 percent of men involved sexually with women under 16 years implies that the law forbidding men such relations ought to define more narrowly what is impermissible.
Abstract: Criminal statistics reveal that men are cautioned rather than arrested and prosecuted for having sexual relations with women under 16 years in 61.6 percent of cases involving girls 13 to 15 and 17.2 percent of cases involving girls under 13. A sample of case studies in Sheffield, England, revealed a higher cautionary rate of 89 percent. Moreover, less than 3 percent of cases are brought to the attention of the police. The age of the offender is also considered by police in deciding to caution or prosecute, as 95 percent of offenders under 15 are cautioned, but substantially fewer of those over 20. Furthermore, the law itself defends men under 24 who believe the victim was over 16, although the police are most willing to prosecute those men they think likely to re-offend. Next, although the victim's consent is not recognized by the law, police tend not to prosecute when the girl is sexually experienced, and they seek assessments of the girl's involvement before exercising their discretion. Finally, the nature of the relationship between the victim and offender is considered. However, the discovery process involved in determining the possible sexual offense raises two questions. First, because so few cases are uncovered, the result is inconvenience rather than deterrence. Secondly, the role of the police is called into question when the offense is discovered by the police interrogating girls whom they had no prior grounds for suspecting. Moreover, the term 'victim' should be more narrowly defined when applied to these cases. It is concluded that the law forbidding men sexual relations with girls under 16 be amended to consider the interests and actions of the victim and the offender and that those cases generally not prosecuted be excluded by the law. Fourteen references are included.
Index Term(s): Great Britain/United Kingdom; Juvenile delinquency prevention; Statutory rape; Victim-offender relationships; Victimless crimes
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