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Police response to domestic violence: An experiment in adult cautioning.

Buchan, Ian B (1993) Police response to domestic violence: An experiment in adult cautioning. MPhil thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The aim of the project was to find a more effective and efficient police response for dealing with domestic violence where there was minor injury to the victim. Background A number of research findings influenced the creation of a new policy. In North America some research suggested arrest acted as a deterrent and was essential as a first step in breaking the cycle of violence by offenders. Historically victims were reluctant to report these cases and when they did so they could well have suffered physical abuse up to 35 times before calling police. In this country police response was negative, officers disliked dealing with domestic violence which they often judged from a male moral view, and did not regard, or report it, as a crime. When crimes were reported official statistics rarely reflected the report rate. One of the reasons for this was the extensive use by police of 'no criming'. Even when cases appeared before a court many prosecutions were dropped and sentences, when imposed on offenders, were light. In the late 80's police in this country began to make greater use of adult cautions as a means of processing offenders. This was seen to be as effective as an appearance before a court so I considered the possibility of using this procedure as a means of processing minor injury domestic violence cases. The Policy At Streatham a positive policy, which promoted early intervention of offenders, was encouraged by me. Those arrested were dealt with as criminals, taken to the police station, their fingerprints and photographs taken and then, if a set criteria was met, police deferred the decision to prosecute or caution for two months. This period allowed police to make further enquiries about the circumstances of the assault and enabled time for the victim and offender to seek help, advice and guidance from other agencies. It was only after this process that a final decision was made about the outcome of the case. Evaluation The scheme was evaluated from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. The arrest, prosecution, and 'no crime' rates were calculated. These were compared to a previous period and to another police area which did not operate a similar policy. The re-offending rates of those cautioned was checked and compared to those who were charged. Statistics for police injuries on duty were examined to ascertain if enforcement of policy had any adverse effect on the number of assaults on officers dealing with domestic incidents. Objective analysis was seen as vital so researchers, from outside the police service, interviewed offenders, victims and police officers to assess the impact of the policy. A questionnaire, which all officers were invited to complete, was anlaysed.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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