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Police Discretion in Rape Cases
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 14:30 authored by Mandeep K. Dhami, Samantha Lundrigan, Sian Thomas
Although policing requires officers to follow policy guidelines when making decisions, these nevertheless leave room for discretion. We used a within-subjects experimental design and idiographic statistical analyses to examine the factors predicting 25 specialist police officers’ decisions to progress rape cases. We found little to no evidence of the influence of some factors (i.e., victim’s criminal history, victim-suspect relationship, time taken to report crime, victim’s prior reports of rape, victim’s alcohol/drug use during offense, and suspect’s previous convictions) on officers’ rape case progression decisions. However, 15 officers were less likely to progress cases involving victims who provided inconsistent accounts. Thus, some types of rape victims may not get access to the justice that they desire and deserve. Although officers also reported that consistency of the victim’s account was important to their decision-making, there was generally a lack of concordance between officers’ self-reported and applied decision-making policies. Thus, officers’ accounts of how they progressed a rape case may be unreliable and invalid.
Publication titleJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology