ArticlePDF Available

Different systems, similar outcomes? Tracking attrition in reported rape cases in eleven countries

Authors:
Article

Different systems, similar outcomes? Tracking attrition in reported rape cases in eleven countries

Figures

Content may be subject to copyright.
Different systems, similar outcomes?
Tracking attrition in reported rape cases in eleven countries
Country brieng: Scotland
Burman, M; Lovett, L & Kelly, L (May 2009)
Introduction
Attrition – the process by which the majority of reported rape cases fail to reach trial – has
become a critical research and policy issue. In virtually all countries where major studies have
been published, substantial increases in reporting have not been matched by rises in
prosecutions, resulting in a falling conviction rate. Whilst this pattern has been documented in
two previous Daphne projects (Regan & Kelly, 2003), it was not universal across Europe. The
central research question for the current study was to analyse the similarities and differences in
attrition processes across 11 countries with varying judicial systems and socio-legal cultures; it is
the rst study to do this.
Methodology
The research design combined two strands: the rst updated time series national level data on
reporting, prosecution and conviction for 33 European countries for the years 2001-2007. The
second had at its core a quantitative content analysis of 100 case les in Austria, Belgium,
England & Wales, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland and Sweden.
This was supplemented by: interviews with key informants; mapping the legal process/
procedure; creating a time line to document social and legal responses to sexual violence.
Project Partners were responsible for the collection and collation of data from their respective
countries.
The 100 cases were to be consecutively reported after 1st April 2004 and tting the following
inclusion criteria: cases recorded as rape; female and male adult victims (aged over 16/the age
of consent); single perpetrator.
All data were collected using case le content analysis, and covered: socio-demographic
information on the victim and the suspect; the offence and reporting proceedings; the
investigation, prosecution processes and court outcomes; and attrition. The process of data
collection revealed gaps in ofcial record-keeping.
1 of 10
As Scotland is a small country, with a total population of 5.1 million, the 100 cases were drawn
from the nation as a whole. Initial access was through a senior police ofcer who contacted all
eight Scottish police forces to secure their agreement to complete pro formas for cases which
met the inclusion criteria. Agreement was also secured from a senior ofcial in the Crown
Ofce and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) to compile the prosecution data on relevant cases.
The researchers entered the case information on the project database. The rst 100 sequential
rape cases reported from 1st April 2004 were identied from a centralised database, and include
cases from all eight police forces. This method resulted in 15 cases being included where the
victims were minors at the time of the assault, but as these were historic allegations, all were
adults (aged over 16) when they made the report. The inclusion of these cases is means the
Scottish sample is not directly comparable to those from other countries.
The data for all countries is presented in more detail in the nal report which will be available at
www.cwasu.org from 31st May 2009. Country specic brieng documents focus on attrition and
emerging comparative ndings.
Law and procedure
Although part of the United Kingdom, Scotland has its own criminal justice system, with
distinctive systems of prosecution, criminal procedure and sentencing. Scots criminal law is also
different in many respects from the law of England and Wales, and has therefore been studied
separately in this project.
Scotland is somewhat unusual in that, unlike many European countries, it does not have a
criminal code. Criminal law is derived from several sources: common law (or case law) derived
from legal precedent and judicial decisions on cases; the authority of legal tradition and thinking;
and legislation. Most criminal offences, including rape, are common law offences. The denition
of rape has evolved over time as a result of court decisions; the most recent (HMA v Watt, 2001)
transformed a force-based denition to one based on consent, and rape in marriage has been
a crime since 1989. Rape remains a gendered crime, restricted to male perpetration, female
victimisation and vaginal penetration. This is one of the narrowest denitions in Europe, and a
current review is consulting on reform proposals to extend it.
Scotland has an adversarial legal system in which the COPFS is responsible for investigating and
prosecuting crime, and local Procurator Fiscals (PF) make initial decisions about prosecution.
The police in Scotland investigate crime on behalf of the PF, and the two agencies work closely
together.
Rape is reported to the police, who carry out an initial investigation and submit a report to the
local PF. Variation across the eight police forces means some have dedicated units with
specially trained staff and others do not. Guidance on the investigation of serious sexual crime,
published in 2008 (ACPOS, 2008), states that the welfare and safety of the victim should take
precedence over investigative issues. On the basis of the initial investigation report the PF
decides whether to move to a formal prosecution process and/or investigate the case further.
Decisions are based on an evidential and public interest test, and in Scotland the evidential test
requires corroborative evidence: that is, there must be more than a single evidential source
(COPFS, 2006). In the case of rape, this presents particular difculties since there are rarely
witnesses to the crime, and previous research has shown that cases resulting in conviction are
2 of 10
more likely to include medical and/or forensic than other types of evidence (COPFS, 2006).
In 2007 the rst SARC opened in Glasgow, ensuring forensic examinations can be undertaken
by a trained female doctor, and other forms of support made available for victims of sexual
offences. However, this is only available in one region; in other areas forensic examinations
tend to be conducted by doctors trained in forensic evidence, with limited access to experienced,
female medical examiners.
A PF gathers and reviews evidence and then makes a report with recommendations to senior
prosecutors (Crown Counsel), who make the nal decisions about charging and prosecution. The
crime is prosecuted by the Crown in the name of the Lord Advocate. Victims are chief witnesses
for the prosecution and do not have the right to separate legal representation.
Rape cases are always prosecuted in the High Court presided over by a judge with a 15-person
lay jury. Other serious sexual offences are prosecuted either in the High Court, or the Sheriff
Court before a Sheriff and 15-person jury.
There are some forms of victim protection (‘special measures’) that can be applied for to assist
victims of sexual violence to give their evidence. All cases are heard in a closed court, which
may be augmented by; giving evidence by live television link; sitting behind a screen in the
courtroom; and/or having a supporter present in court. Scotland has introduced ‘rape shield
legislation’ to restrict the use of unnecessary and irrelevant questioning of a victim’s sexual
history and/or character in court, although research has found this legislation to be limited in its
effectiveness (Burman
et al
., 2007).
In addition to a nding of guilt, Scottish jurors have the possibility of nding a case ‘not proven’
as well as ‘not guilty’, both of which result in an acquittal with no possibility of retrial. The
decision can be unanimous (all the jury members agree) or by majority (at least 8 of the jury
agree). The High Court can sentence up to life imprisonment, whereas a Sheriff Court can
sentence up to a maximum of ve years, but may refer the case to the High Court if they think
the sentence should be longer.
Attrition in reported rape cases
The attrition data for Scotland are presented in two sections, the rst outlining the national
statistics and the second reporting detailed analysis of the 100 cases. In the latter, all
comparisons are with the other countries where original data were collected.
National statistics
The Scottish national statistics over the last three decades reveal attrition trends similar to
those found in England & Wales and many northern European states – increased reporting,
virtually static prosecutions and convictions and a sharply declining conviction rate. Rape
reports in Scotland have grown fairly consistently year on year, with an increase of 451%
between 1977 and 2006 (see Figure 1); a similar rate to England & Wales. This increase has been
attributed to the widening of the legal denition of rape and the removal of the requirement to
prove force, although the increase begins before these changes suggesting additional factors
are in play (COPFS, 2006). The reporting rate per 100,000 of the population is the fourth
highest in Europe, after Sweden, Iceland and England & Wales.
3 of 10
2 of 10
4 of 10
Figure 1: Reports, prosecutions and convictions for rape in Scotland 1977-2006
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
Number
0
5
10
15
20
25
%
Reports Prosecutions Convictions Conviction rate ( %)
Reports
178
166
145
166
170
131
139
224
248
249
241
279
328
326
320
350
339
395
403
447
570
613
591
562
589
745
794
892
960
981
Prosecutions
60
52
50
52
64
55
52
43
80
65
64
84
72
70
62
68
74
55
43
72
68
66
59
51
67
52
86
89
90
69
Convictions
Conviction rate (%)
20
17
23
18
24
24
22
9
16
12
14
18
12
11
8
9
11
8
7
7
5
6
5
5
7
4
6
5
5
3
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
Source: Court Affairs, Prisons & Offenders Analytical Team, Scotland
Note: Analysis based on calendar year
In marked contrast, there has been virtually no change in the number of prosecutions or
convictions. Between 1977 and 2006 the number of prosecutions grew by only 15% (an increase
of just 9 cases from the original gure of 60), representing a fall in the proportion of reported
cases prosecuted from 34% in 1977 to 7% in 2006. The highest number of prosecutions over
the whole period was achieved in 2005, at 90.
Convictions have also remained almost static, with a comparison between 1977 and 2006
revealing a decrease of 17% from 35 to 29, although gures for 2003-5 were in excess of 40.
This represents a maximum increase across the period of 34% – again, minimal compared to the
increase in reporting. Around half of prosecuted cases are successful (42-61% between 2001
and 2006). However, like many other EU countries where reporting levels are high, the
conviction rate as a proportion of reported cases in Scotland is low: in fact, it is currently the
lowest in Europe at 3%.
Case tracking of the 100 cases
Victim prole
• Given the legal denition, all victims were female.
• More than half were aged 16-30 (53%), and just under one fth were under 16 at the
time of the assault.
• The Scottish sample was one of the least ethnically diverse, albeit that the population is
fairly homogenous.
• Half (51%) were single, with 16% in relationships.
• Half were employed or students (50%), with 44% unemployed – the highest proportion
of all countries in the study.
• 11% had a mental health problem and 6% had a disability, but information was not
known in around half of cases.
• A fairly high proportion (44%) had consumed alcohol at the time of the assault and 6%
had consumed drugs: just under half (45%) of those consuming either substance (n=47)
were reported to be severely affected at the time.
Suspect prole
• Suspects were all male.
• They were, on average, somewhat older than victims.
• Ethnicity was similar to victims, and fewer were single, with over a quarter in
relationships (26%), but this information was missing for more than a third (38%).
• More were employed than victims (37%), far fewer were students and a similar
proportion (51%) were unemployed.
• Only one had a mental health issue and one had a disability (in more than half of cases
data were missing).
• Slightly lower proportions (35%) had consumed alcohol and drugs (2%) at the time of
the assault.
• 40% had been previously accused of a criminal offence (7% sexual and 33% other
offences), and 29% had been previously convicted (6% for sexual and 23% for other
offences).
5 of 10
4 of 10
Offences and contexts
• All cases were reported as rapes; six were re-classied later in the investigation – two
as indecent assault, two as physical assaults and two as ‘other’ offence types.
• Almost two thirds (63%) occurred in a private space, such as the perpetrator’s or
victim’s home, or in a shared home, one fth (20%) in a public place and 7% in a
semi-public place, such as a social gathering or pub/club.
• Two thirds of perpetrators (65%) were known to the victim in some way. Strangers and
recent acquaintances (someone the victim had met within the previous 24 hours)
comprised just over one fth (22%), but the proportion of strangers (7%) was by far the
lowest of all countries participating in the study.
• Just over one quarter (27%) of victims had documented physical injuries, and one case
involved a weapon.
Attrition
Table 1 presents basic data on case progress and attrition. In the majority of cases the rape was
reported by the victim (75%). All victims were interviewed by police but more than one fth
(22%) did not make a formal statement, and almost half (48%) did not have a forensic examina-
tion; the latter is in part accounted for by the proportion of historic allegations.
The majority of suspects were identied (88%) and interviewed by police (85%), just under two
thirds (61%) were arrested, with 57% held in custody (most commonly by police). These are
the highest arrest and custody rates of all countries in the study. Almost six in ten (59%) were
charged – the second highest rate in the study.
6 of 10
F^Wi[e\b[]WbfheY[ii 9Wi[fhe]h[iiWdZekjYec[ D%
?dl[ij_]Wj_ed L_Yj_c_dj[hl_[m[Z '&&
Ikif[Yj_Z[dj_\_[Z ..
Ikif[Yj_dj[hl_[m[Z .+
9^Wh][ Ikif[YjY^Wh][Z +/
9ekhj H[\[hh[ZjeYekhj (.
:_iYedj_dk[Z .
L_Yj_cm_j^ZhWmWb '
EkjYec[kdademd '
Jh_[ZWjYekhj '.
7Ygk_jjWb (
9edl_Yj_ed ',
JWXb['09Wi[fhe]h[iiWdZWjjh_j_ed_dj^[IYejj_i^iWcfb[
?dYbkZ[i]k_bjol[hZ_Yji"]k_bjofb[WiWdZfWhjYedl_Yj_edi
Table 2 presents more detail on the points during the legal process at which attrition occurred,
the primary decision-maker (victim, police, prosecutor, judge or jury) and the main reason why.
This analysis shows that attrition in Scotland takes place over the course of the legal process as
a whole. However, there was a high degree of missing data in relation to some variables com-
pared to other countries.
Scotland has the lowest proportion of cases discontinued at the early (21%) and mid (9%) stages
of the investigation of any country participating in the study. At the earliest point, this decision
is most commonly made by victims withdrawing co-operation or declining to complete the initial
processes (n=10). Three of these cases involved the victim’s current partner. However, police
and prosecutors also make early decisions not to proceed due to lack of evidence (n=7); three
cases were designated false allegations at this point.
At the mid-point, prosecutors are responsible for the majority of decisions (n=6), with concerns
about sufciency of evidence and whether the allegation amounted to a sexual assault the main
considerations; a fourth case was also designated a false allegation at this point.
The late investigation is the key stage of attrition in Scotland, with 29% of cases discontin-
ued here, spread across prosecutors (n=12), police (n=9) and victims (n=4), where details were
available. For the former, evidential concerns were paramount, including identication of the
suspect and whether the alleged offence amounted to a sexual assault. There was a mid-range
designation of false reports, at 4%, with the range in the study as a whole 1-9%.
There are more cases discontinued just before court in the Scottish sample (n=14) than in any
other country in the study. Whilst in one there was a victim withdrawal, the majority were due
to decisions by prosecutors regarding evidence, where details of the reason are known. In well
over two thirds of cases (71%, n=10 of 14) discontinued at this point, the suspect was well known
to the victim, including one current and four ex-partners; the remaining four were strangers
(n=2) or recent acquaintances (n=2).
Only a small proportion of cases were discontinued at court – one just before the case was heard
and two acquittals following the trial, one of which was directed by the judge. This is very low
compared to most other countries.
The conviction rate of 16% in the Scottish sample is noticeably higher than that in the national
level data (3% in 2006 and 5% in 2004-5), although as a proportion of cases referred to court
(57%, n=16 of 28) it is within the national rate of successful prosecutions of recent years (see
above). The reasons for this disparity are unclear, although the fact that six of the convicted
cases involved victims who were minors at the time of the assault(s) may have increased the
rate somewhat, since research indicates that child cases are more likely to result in conviction
(Kelly et al., 2005).
7 of 10
6 of 10
Characteristics of convicted cases
In the Scottish sample 16 cases resulted in a guilty outcome at trial (n=10 convictions, n=4 guilty
pleas and n=2 part convictions). The majority of sentences were custodial – ranging from one to
eight years – one was given a nine-month Community Order and one three years’ probation. In
two cases sentencing details were unknown.
8 of 10
M^[dYWi[\[bbekj M^ei[Z[Y_i_ed M^o\[bbekj D%
;Whbo_dl[ij_]Wj _ed L_Yj_c L_Yj_cm_j^ ZhWmWb e\Ye# ef[hWj_ed /
:[Yb_d[ZjeYecfb[j[_d_j_WbfheY[ii '
Feb_Y[ ?dik\\_Y_[dj[l_Z[dY[ (
<Wbi[Wbb[]Wj_ed '
Kdademd '
Fhei[Ykjeh ?dik\\_Y_[dj[l_Z[dY[ +
<Wbi[Wbb[]Wj_ed (
;Whbo_dl[ij_]Wj_edjejWb ('
C_Z_dl[ij_]Wj_ed L_Yj_c L_Yj_cm_j^ ZhWmWb e\Ye# ef[hWj_ed '
Feb_Y[ <Wbi[Wbb[]Wj_ed '
De[l_Z[dY[e\i[nkWbWiiWkbj '
Fhei[Ykjeh ?dik\\_Y_[dj[l_Z[dY[ (
Ej^[h '
Kdademd )
C_Z_dl[ij_]Wj_edjejWb /
BWj[_dl[ij_]Wj _ed L_Yj_c L_Yj_cm_j^ ZhWmWb e\Ye# ef[hWj_ed )
:[Yb_d[ZjeYecfb[j[_d_j_WbfheY[ii '
Feb_Y[ ?dik\\_Y_[dj[l_Z[dY[ -
De[l_Z[dY[e\i[nkWbWiiWkbj '
Ikif[Yjdej_Z[dj_\_[Z '
Fhei[Ykjeh ?dik\\_Y_[dj[l_Z[dY[ +
Kdademd -
Kdademd Kdademd '
BWj[_dl[ij_]Wj_edjejWb (,
@kijX[\eh[Yekhj L_Yj_c L_Yj_cm_j^ ZhWmWb e\Ye# ef[hWj_ed '
Fhei[Ykjeh ?dik\\_Y_[dj[l_Z[dY[ +
De[l_Z[dY[e\i[nkWbWiiWkbj '
Ej^[h '
Kdademd ,
@kijX[\eh[YekhjjejWb '*
7jYekhjX[\eh[YWi[^[WhZ Fhei[Ykjeh ?dik\\_Y_[dj[l_Z[dY[ '
7jYekhjX[\eh[YWi[^[WhZjejWb '
7jYekhjZkh_d]%WjYedYbki_ede\YWi[ @kZ][ 7Ygk_jj[Z '
@kho 7Ygk_jj[Z '
(
''
9edl_Yj[Z ',
JEJ7B '&&
7jYekhjZkh_d]%WjYedYbki_ede\YWi[jejWb
Kdademd
JWXb[(0:[jW_b[ZWjjh_j_edfe_djWdWboi_i_dj^[IYejj_i^iWcfb[
Additional analysis reveals factors which made conviction more likely.
• Almost all (88%, n=14 of 16) convicted offenders were known to the victim, with the
most common relationships family members (n=8) and ex-partners (n=3). The
majority of assaults (n=10) occurred in the victim or offender’s home.
• A higher proportion of convicted offenders had been previously accused (50% v 40%)
or convicted (75% v 29%) of criminal offences.
• In over half of cases (56%, n=9 of 16) victims were under the age of 20 at the time of
the assault, and in over one third (38%, n=6) they were minors.
• More victims in the sub-sample of convicted cases had undergone a forensic
examination (63% v 52%), and a higher proportion of convicted cases (38% v 27%)
involved documented injuries.
• A lower proportion of victims in convicted cases (25% v 44%) had consumed alcohol,
in part due to the number of cases involving minors in a familial context.
Conclusions
The data from Scotland were both similar and different to other countries in revealing ways,
with implications for policy and practice which we summarise here.
From the national data
• Reporting rates are high, and have increased by 451% since 1977.
• Prosecution and conviction rates have not kept pace, and the conviction has fallen to
the extent that it is now the lowest in Europe at 3%.
From the case tracking data
• Attrition takes place across the legal process, albeit that much more of the decision
making takes place later and is made by PFs/COPFS.
• A relatively low proportion (4%) of cases are designated false reports.
• The conviction rate is mid-range for the study, but considerably higher than the
national rate for Scotland.
• Whilst cases involving perpetrators who were family members had a reasonable chance
of proceeding to trial, very few of those involving current/ex-partners did so.
• The majority of cases resulting in a conviction reect stereotypes of rape and rapists.
9 of 10
8 of 10
References
Association of Chief Police Ofcers in Scotland (ACPOS) (2008)
Scottish Investigators Guide to
Serious Sexual Offences.
Edinburgh: ACPOS
Burman, M, Jamieson, L, Nicholson, J and Brooks, O (2007)
Impact of Aspects of the Law of
Evidence in Sexual Offence Trials
Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/09/12093427/0
Crown Ofce and Procurator Fiscal Service (2006)
Review of the Investigation and Prosecution
of Sexual Offences in Scotland: Report and Recommendations.
Edinburgh, COPFS.
http://www.crownofce.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/9/0000174.pdf
Kelly, L., Lovett, J. & Regan, L. (2005)
A Gap or a Chasm? Attrition in Reported Rape Cases,
Home Ofce Research Study 293, London: Home Ofce. Available online at:
http://www.homeofce.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors293.pdf.
Regan, L. & Kelly, L. (2003)
Rape: Still a Forgotten Issue,
Brieng Document for Strengthen-
ing the Linkages – Consolidating the European Network Project, London: Child & Woman Abuse
Studies Unit. Available at: http://www.rcne.com/downloads/RepsPubs/Attritn.pdf.
Project partner
Project co-ordinators
Prof Michele Burman Prof Liz Kelly & Jo Lovett
University of Glasgow CWASU
Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research Ladbroke House
Florentine House 62-66 Highbury Grove
53 Hillhead Street London
Glasgow, G12 8QF N5 2AD
UK UK
Tel: +44 141 330 6983 Tel: +44 207 133 5014
Email: m.burman@lbss.gla.ac.uk Email: cwasu@londonmet.ac.uk
Website : www.sccjr.ac.uk Website: www.cwasu.org
Funded by the European Commission Daphne II Programme to combat violence against
children, young people and women
10 of 10
... Attrition at the police investigation stage While attrition rates differ at the different stages, most studies show that the highest attrition occurs at the police investigation phase, and most reported cases never make it to trial (5,20,(28)(29)(30). Factors associated with rape case attrition in the police investigation stage include the victim characteristics and circumstances of the incident, investigative rigor, police member attitudes towards gender norms and acceptance of rape myths, availability of resources and staffi ng in police stations, and cooperation between different police clusters and other actors in the criminal justice system (31). ...
... Courts should be encouraged to call expert witnesses to enable appropriate interpretation of child complainant behaviour and their use should be monitored 27. Translators in courts should professionalised, competency tested and assured to ensure the quality of their work 28. First language statement taking should be enabled, with professional translation where required 29. ...
Research
Full-text available
This national study aimed to describe patterns of attrition of rape cases during their progression through the criminal justice system and factors associated with this, and to generate recommendations for strengthening the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of cases. The study’s additional objectives were to understand more about the decision making of prosecutors in taking cases to trial, using interviews and to understand how cases proceed in trial and how judgements are made, through an analysis of trial transcripts.
... The research assistants used a structured paper-based forms to capture detailed information from these. Dockets typically contained background information about the victim including Alderden and Long, 2016, Alderden, and Ullman 2012, Artz and Smythe, D. 2007a, Artz and Smythe, 2007b, Bougard and Booyens 2015, Du Mont et al. 2003, Forr et al. 2018, Frohman 1997, Gregory and Lees 1999, Grubb and Turner 2012, Hansen 2019, Jina et al. 2011, Kaiser et al.,2017, Koss 1985, Koss et al. 1988, Krahe et al. 2008, Lynch et al 2013, Maddox et al. 2011, Morabito et al, 2019a, Nagel et al. 2005, Nishith et al. 2001, O'Neal et al. 2015, Santtila et al. 2004, Siller 2018, Smythe, 2004, Smythe 2015, Snyder 2000, Spohn et al. 2001, Spohn et al. 2014, Spohn and Tellis, 2019, Swemmer, 2020, Taylor and Gassner, 2010, Ullman et al. 2005, Van der Watt et al. 2015, Vetten and Haffejee, 2005, Waterhouse et al. 2016, Watson 2015, Woodhams, and Cooke, 2013, Woodhams et al. 2012, Woodhams et al. 2019, Wong, and Balemba, 2016, *Point of highest attrition (Artz and Smythe, 2007b, Munro and Kelly, 2009, Daly and Bouhours, 2010, Burman et al., 2009, Vetten 2008Vetten et al. 2008, Lea et al., 2003;**Point of second highest attrition Coloured arrows depict the linkages between factors and impacts on attrition at the CJS stages. Notes: In Some instances, a rape victim may be seen at a health facility first and have evidence collected before reporting to the police for the purpose of this paper, we used a guilty verdict as the outcome and did nor include sentencing outcomes in the framework. ...
Article
The attrition of rape cases within the criminal justice system is driven by different factors. We aimed to describe the patterns of rape case attrition and associated factors in South Africa. We analysed a national sample of 3,952 cases reported in 2012. We found that 35 per cent of cases were closed by police, 31 per cent were declined by the prosecutors, 16 per cent were enrolled but later struck off the roll, 19 per cent went on trial and 9 per cent were finalised with conviction. Aggravating circumstances, availability of forensic evidence and success at perpetrator arrests were key for case progression and increased likelihood of convictions. Thorough police investigations and continual training which addresses negative gender or other rape stereotyping are critical to ensure rape convictions.
... Both within academia (Hohl & Stanko, 2015;Kelly & Lovett, 2009) and the policy arena (Angiolini, 2015;Home Office, 2021;Stern, 2010) there has been considerable work undertaken to explore the problem of attrition in RASSO at the police stage of the criminal justice process. Often such reviews point to the need for an increased learning input for officers in this space to improve the quality of investigations and provision of victim care. ...
Article
Full-text available
Drawing on data from Project Bluestone in Avon and Somerset Constabulary in 2021, this paper argues for a more nuanced approach to understanding the relationship between the organizational support given to officers via access to specialist learning, the service delivered to victims and survivors of rape and serious sexual offences, and officer wellbeing. To promote legitimacy within the workplace organizations, have a responsibility to enable their staff with the personal resources they need to fulfil their role (Birch et al. in Police Pract Res 18:26–36, 2017). Considering this in the context of policing, by applying organizational justice theory this piece argues that limited access to effective learning in the RASSO field can impact on personal feelings of competence and officer wellbeing within the workplace. The research found that the lack of formal learning resulted in practitioners learning from their own and their peers’ experiences and errors with limited time for critical reflection. Moving forward, the authors argue for a commitment to the input of specialist expert knowledge in the area of RASSO with time allocated for officers to apply and critically evaluate such learning in a practical context.
... Underreporting of rape incidents is a universal pattern across the globe, with United States-based surveys typically showing an alarming 10%-16% reporting rate (Spohn et al., 2017;Wolitzky-Taylor et al., 2011). Among countries with the lowest rate of rape reports, Hungary stands out with a reporting rate of only 8% (Virág, 2004), and, in a recent study, the lowest reporting rate among 28 European countries, with only 2.1 reports per 100,000 people (Lovett & Kelly, 2009). Some estimates go even further: Hungarian nongovernmental organization (NGO) Nõk a Nõkért Együtt az Erõszak Ellena women's rights organization-claims that only 0.24% of all rape incidents are officially registered (Wirth & Winkler, 2015). ...
Article
Alarmed by research that reveals Hungary as having one of the lowest reporting rates in cases of sexual violence in Europe, this article provides an overview of the research that explains why, historically, sexual violence has been and continues to be underreported all over the globe, from law enforcement and criminal justice perspective. Furthermore, we describe the unique circumstances that might influence Hungarian victims of sexual violence to make formal reports. Among other possible factors, we discuss rape myth acceptance, victim blaming, feminist activism, institutional betrayal, and media representations of rape. In an effort to provide insight into Hungarian gender politics, this article raises salient theoretical works on gender ideology and gender policy in contemporary Hungary. This article concludes with a discussion on what implications such research in Hungary may have on a global understanding of sexual violence reporting.
... Such processes would range from decisions on whether or not to arrest the accused, on ensuring adequate protection of the victim's privacy, and on how to apply re-traumatization preventative measures. It is alarming that rape reporting is similarly low in Eastern and Southern European countries, with Hungary having the lowest rate of reporting (Lovett and Kelly 2009). Future research should address how criminal justice systems precipitate this phenomenon: how the characteristics of the penal procedure, as well as the attitudes of CJ professionals, possibly hinder the reporting of sexual violence and witness resilience. ...
Article
Full-text available
While rape historically remains underreported all over the globe, and criminal justice factors contribute to this problem, we investigate unique circumstances that might influence reporting inclinations by Hungarian victims of sexual violence. Among other possible factors, victim-blaming, institutional desensitization, and a lack of trust in the criminal justice system and in the community are discussed. The in-depth interviews (n = 22) with law enforcement and criminal justice professionals conducted in 2018 in Hungary reveal roots of underreporting in the complexities of the criminal justice system: there is a failure to prioritize victims’ needs—mental care services, physical and privacy protection—and a focus instead on solely providing legal justice. The further deficits that can be found among professionals’ attitudes and behaviors in the courtroom are products of the following: a lack of standardized protocols in addressing the needs of victims; a dearth of technical and evidence-based knowledge and training; a lack of supervision and trauma-informed services to practitioners; high caseloads; a focus on the goal of high conviction rates; not providing open communication toward victims; and a shortage of standardized protocols in dealing with victims.
... The legal counsel representing the sexual violence victim-survivor has procedural rights during the investigation and trial, including appealing and challenging trial proceedings (Lovett & Kelly, 2009;Statens Offentliga Utredningar (SOU) [State Public Reports], 2007). The victim's legal counsel has an unconditional right to be present at all questioning, hearings, and trial processes. ...
Article
Research has established the possibility for rape victim-survivors to experience secondary victimization as a result of encounters with the criminal justice system. However, most of this work is based in Anglo-American countries, with less attention to the issue in the Nordic context. In this article, I report on in-depth interviews with Swedish criminal justice professionals and their perspective on investigating and processing sexual violence cases, as well as interviews with professionals who work directly with rape victim-survivors and their external evaluations of the criminal justice system. While there is a general awareness of the need for an empathetic and sensitive response from police officers and support from the victim’s legal counsel, in practice, the process can be a ‘lottery’ for victim-survivors: while some individual police officers and lawyers are dedicated to victim-centred encounters, others are dismissive or hostile. I discuss policy initiatives, including training, specialization, and required competencies, that institutionalize and standardize victim-centred practices to promote a supportive environment for all sexual violence victim-survivors in the Swedish criminal justice system.
... The past decades have seen increased reporting of rape cases to the police in several countries, especially in Northern and Western Europe; but this increase in reporting was generally not matched by a comparable increase in conviction -leading to a decline in conviction rates (Lovett & Kelly, 2009). It is important to understand the factors that influence social decision-making. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
The present study investigated the attribution of responsibility to victims and perpetrators in rape compared to robbery cases in Turkey. Each participant read three short case scenarios (vignettes) and completed items pertaining to the female victim and male perpetrator. The vignettes were systematically varied with regard to the type of crime that was committed (rape or robbery), the perpetrator’s coercive strategy (physical force or exploiting the victim’s alcohol-induced defenselessness), and the victim-perpetrator relationship prior to the incident (stranger, acquaintance, or ex-partner). Furthermore, participant gender and acceptance of rape myths (beliefs that justify or trivialize sexual violence) were taken into account. One half of the participants completed the rape myth acceptance (RMA) scales first and then received the vignettes, while the other half were given the vignettes first and then completed the RMA scales. As expected, more blame was attributed to victims of rape than to victims of robbery. Conversely, perpetrators of rape were blamed less than perpetrators of robbery. The more participants endorsed rape myths, the more blame was attributed to the victim and the less blame was attributed to the perpetrators. Increasing levels of RMA were associated with an increase in victim blame (VB) in both rape and robbery cases, but the increase in rape VB was significantly more pronounced than in robbery VB. Increasing RMA was associated with an attenuation of perpetrator blame (PB) that was more pronounced for rape than for robbery cases, but the difference was not significant. As expected, victims of rape were blamed more when the perpetrator exploited their defenselessness due to alcohol intoxication than when they were overpowered by physical force. Contrary to the hypothesis, this was also true for robbery victims. Rape victims who knew their attacker (ex-partner or acquaintance) were blamed more than victims who were assaulted by strangers. Contrary to the hypothesis, robbery victims who were assaulted by an ex-partner were blamed more than acquaintance or stranger robbery victims. As predicted, the closer the relationship between victim and perpetrator, the less blame was attributed to perpetrators of rape while this factor had no effect on PB in robbery cases. Men compared to women attributed more blame to the victims and less blame to the perpetrators. As expected, these gender differences in blame attributions were partially mediated by gender differences in RMA: After RMA was taken into account, the gender differences disappeared nearly completely for VB and were significantly reduced in PB. The order of presentation of the vignettes and the RMA measures was systematically varied to test the causal influence of RMA on rape blame attributions. The hypothesis that RMA causes VB and PB in rape cases (as opposed to the other way around or both are caused by a third variable) was not supported. Possible reasons for this failed manipulation and its implications for the mediation model are discussed. With regard to blame attribution in rape cases, the present results match what was expected from previous studies which were mainly conducted in “Western” countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, or Germany. The present results support the notion that the victim-perpetrator relationship and the victim’s alcohol consumption are cross-culturally stable factors for blame attribution in rape cases. It was expected that blame attribution in robbery cases would be unaffected by the perpetrator’s coercive strategy and the victim-perpetrator relationship, but the results were inconsistent. One unexpected effect is particularly noteworthy: When the perpetrator used physical force, more blame was attributed to rape than to robbery victims, but intoxicated victims were blamed more and almost equally so for both types of crime. Perpetrators who exploited drunk victims were blamed less in both rape and robbery cases. These results contradict German results collected with the German version of the same instruments (Bieneck & Krahé, 2011). Turkey is a Muslim country and alcohol is surrounded by a certain taboo. Possibly, the results reflect a cultural difference in that intoxicated victims are generally blamed more for their victimization and this factor is not limited to rape cases.
... 4 Comparative research uncovers similar findings (e.g. Frank, Hardinge & Wosicke-Correa 2009), as have studies in Israel (Ajzenstadt & Steinberg 2001), Europe (Boyne 2010;Jehle 2012;Kelly 2010;Lovett & Kelly 2009), Australia (Brereton 1997;Dylan, Regehr & Alaggia 2008;Lievore 2003), and Hong Kong (Cheung, Andry & Tam 1990). 5 As stated above, "real rape" describes incidents in which a sober woman is penetrated by a stranger, who resists vigorously, is severely injured, and who reports immediately. ...
Article
In sexual assault cases, prosecutorial charging decisions may be influenced by legal factors like offense seriousness and convictability and extralegal rape myths. We use data on sexual assaults in Los Angeles, to test for the effects of victim behavior, victim credibility, and “real rape” stereotypes on the decision to file charges. We also test the liberation hypothesis, examining whether rape myths influence the charge decision more in less serious nonpenetrative cases then in penetrative cases. Results show that victim credibility and behavior, but not consistency with real rape stereotypes, affect charging decisions, even after controlling for legally relevant factors, and they influence prosecutors’ charging decisions equally in penetrative and nonpenetrative cases. Rape myths also influence the charging decision indirectly via victim cooperation. We conclude that rape myths are incorporated into the criminal justice system’s definition of and response to sexual violence, so cannot be addressed by changing case screening policies.
... In many rape cases, acquittals or terminations of proceedings are based on a lack of evidence. If there is neither physical evidence nor other witnesses, the only basis for a conviction is the presumed victim's statement (Kelly and Lovett 2009). However, the appraisal of victims' statements is often influenced by legally irrelevant factors, such as the display of emotions by the witness (Ask and Landström 2010;Kaufmann et al. 2003;Vrij and Fischer 1997;Winkel and Koppelaar 1991) or the judges' acceptance of common myths about sexual aggression (Goodman-Delahunty and Graham 2011; Wenger and Bornstein 2006). ...
Article
Full-text available
Female rape victims who display “appropriate” emotions (versus “inappropriate” or no emotions) are often judged to be more credible. The authors studied the interplay of different emotion displays with perceivers’ acceptance of modern myths about sexual aggression (AMMSA) in predicting judgments of credibility and blame. Law students (N = 120) completed a 16-item AMMSA scale and watched a video showing a simulated interview with a rape victim (played by an actress). The emotion displayed by the victim (sad, angry, or neutral) was experimentally manipulated; her statement’s verbal content was held constant. Main dependent variables were perceived victim credibility, victim blame, severity of the injury, and likelihood of recovery. Results showed that AMMSA strongly predicted all dependent variables across conditions. Effects of displayed emotions were less pervasive and depended on participants’ gender and AMMSA: At higher (vs. lower) levels of AMMSA, women – but not men – judged the sad victim’s statement to be most credible, and the angry victim’s statement to be least credible, with the neutral statement falling in between. The findings suggest that perceivers may be better at keeping their judgements free from unwanted external influences (the emotional displays) than unwanted internal influences (their own AMMSA). The authors discuss future directions regarding the mechanisms involved and practical implications for the legal context.
Article
Full-text available
One of the goals of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is to end violence against women and girls in all countries. An important component of this goal is ensuring that all crimes of violence against women and girls are taken seriously by the criminal justice system and that police, prosecutors, judges and jurors respond appropriately. However, research detailing how cases of sexual assault proceed in the criminal justice system reveals that this goal remains elusive, both in the United States and elsewhere. The rape reform movement ushered in changes to traditional rape law that were designed to encourage victims to report to the police and to remove barriers to arrest and successful prosecution. However, four decades after this reform, victims are still reluctant to report sexual assaults to the police, and arrest, prosecution and conviction rates for sexual assault cases are shockingly low. Reversing these trends will require policy changes that are designed to counteract the stereotypes and myths underpinning sexual assault and sexual assault victims.
Rape: Still a Forgotten Issue, Briefing Document for Strengthening the Linkages – Consolidating the European Network Project, London: Child & Woman Abuse Studies Unit Available at: http://www
  • L Regan
  • L Kelly
Regan, L. & Kelly, L. (2003) Rape: Still a Forgotten Issue, Briefing Document for Strengthening the Linkages – Consolidating the European Network Project, London: Child & Woman Abuse Studies Unit. Available at: http://www.rcne.com/downloads/RepsPubs/Attritn.pdf. Project partner Project co-ordinators
Impact of Aspects of the Law of Evidence in Sexual Offence Trials Edinburgh: Scottish Government
  • M Burman
  • L Jamieson
  • Nicholson
  • O Brooks
Burman, M, Jamieson, L, Nicholson, J and Brooks, O (2007) Impact of Aspects of the Law of Evidence in Sexual Offence Trials Edinburgh: Scottish Government. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/09/12093427/0
Rape: Still a Forgotten Issue, Briefing Document for Strengthening the Linkages-Consolidating the European Network Project
  • L Regan
  • L Kelly
Regan, L. & Kelly, L. (2003) Rape: Still a Forgotten Issue, Briefing Document for Strengthening the Linkages-Consolidating the European Network Project, London: Child & Woman Abuse Studies Unit. Available at: http://www.rcne.com/downloads/RepsPubs/Attritn.pdf. Project partner Project co-ordinators
Rape: Still a Forgotten Issue, Briefing Document for Strengthening the Linkages -Consolidating the European Network Project, London: Child & Woman Abuse Studies Unit
  • L Regan
  • L Kelly
Regan, L. & Kelly, L. (2003) Rape: Still a Forgotten Issue, Briefing Document for Strengthening the Linkages -Consolidating the European Network Project, London: Child & Woman Abuse Studies Unit. Available at: http://www.rcne.com/downloads/RepsPubs/Attritn.pdf.