Police Decision-Making in Rape Investigations: Exploring the Barriers to Reform

PhD Thesis

Williams, E (2019). Police Decision-Making in Rape Investigations: Exploring the Barriers to Reform. PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of Law and Social Sciences https://doi.org/10.18744/LSBU.003180
AuthorsWilliams, E
TypePhD Thesis

The problem of attrition during the police investigation of rape has received much attention over time. As the gatekeepers to the Criminal Justice System, the police have a central role in the factors involved in attrition and, as a result, they have been subject to a number of reform and change programmes aimed at resolving this. Reviews exploring the ongoing problems have consistently found issues with the police response to rape and the high rate of attrition remains. This thesis investigates the key role of police decision making and the factors involved during a rape investigation. Officers’ perspectives on the lack of successful change in this field is central to this work. The analysis presented draws on forty-eight semi-structured interviews with a range of officers who have involvement in the process of rape investigation in London. The research was undertaken over two time periods and explores the impact of change in this area of policing over time. The work draws on the theoretical ideas of Acker (1990), Sackmann (1991) and Bourdieu (1990) to explore the interview data and argues that the police organisation places increased credibility on certain gendered police tasks and outcomes. This impacts on officers’ decision making within an investigation and the knowledge applied in this process. Achieving capital through involvement in this hierarchy of tasks allows officers to negotiate a sense of legitimacy as a professional police officer. The findings indicate that the capital attached to these tasks is reaffirmed by the presence of certain organisational processes and structures. In particular, performance management frameworks within the Metropolitan Police Service recreate a certain discourse about what constitutes both good policing and a professional police identity. The thesis explores the way in which these factors impact on reform agendas by examining the gendered nature of policing and how internal structures ensure its’ strength is maintained.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.18744/LSBU.003180
Publication dates
Print01 Jan 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited13 May 2019
Publisher's version
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