Rape: Challenging Contemporary Thinking
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Rape remains one of the most controversial issues within criminal justice and receives high profile coverage internationally. Despite the many changes there have been to the law, practice and procedure in the investigation of rape allegations, and support available for victims, victims are routinely blamed for their victimization. Only a very small number of perpetrators ever face prosecution, let alone conviction.
This book aims to take stock of current thinking and research about rape and the way it is handled in practice within the criminal justice system, and to challenge some of the widely held but inaccurate beliefs about rape. It brings together leading researchers in the field from psychology, sociology and law, considering new research and presenting new data from a strong theoretical and contextual base.
The main focus of the book is on adult victims of rape, with chapters exploring such issues as rape and the media, the use of alcohol and drugs in rape, police decision making on rape cases, conviction patterns in rape trials, and interviewing victims of rape and sexual assault.
regards what happens, what position, where were your hands, what did you feel, smell, touch, that sort of thing. (Detective, male) The process of establishing what was often described as ‘fine-grained detail’ was illustrated by one officer as follows: Some rape allegations you’ll say ‘ok, so you’ve got to this room, you’re wearing jeans and you’re wearing a top and you’re wearing a cardigan, and so you tell me what happened then?’ and they say ‘well I just got naked and we were on the sofa
provide a detailed and consistent account, ideally with points that could be corroborated by other evidence (for example, whereabouts at certain times corroborated by CCTV footage). To be considered a ‘good interview’ this account should ideally be consistent, not only internally within the police interview, but also in the telling and retelling to other audiences, such as the SOLO officer when taking the account, and any other individuals the victim may have told about the assault. The notion of
alleged assault undermines complainant credibility in the eyes of jurors. The other is that expert testimony can be used to improve jurors’ understanding, leading to less biased perceptions of complainant credibility (Ellison and Munro 2008). There is indeed ample evidence from studies using the scenario technique that a complainant’s behaviour during and after an assault does affect perceptions of her credibility. For example, information that the complainant was intoxicated at the time of the
unwilling to convict cases that deviate from this. Using campaigns to persuade behavioural change has limited success (as witnessed by Temkin and Krahé’s evaluation of the Home Office anti-rape posters). Dramatic changes of behaviour have resulted from legal sanctions such as the seat belt laws or legally enforced prohibitions such as smoking in pubs or using a mobile phone when driving. There are problems with legal sanctions, not least the need to monitor adherence and the impact on the desired
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