An analysis of police officers decisions about whether to refer cases of child abuse for prosecution

Powell, Martine, Murfett, Romana and Thomson, Donald M. 2010, An analysis of police officers decisions about whether to refer cases of child abuse for prosecution, Psychology, crime & law, vol. 16, no. 8, pp. 715-724, doi: 10.1080/10683160903025828.

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Title An analysis of police officers decisions about whether to refer cases of child abuse for prosecution
Author(s) Powell, MartineORCID iD for Powell, Martine
Murfett, Romana
Thomson, Donald M.
Journal name Psychology, crime & law
Volume number 16
Issue number 8
Start page 715
End page 724
Total pages 10
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2010-10
ISSN 1068-316X
Keyword(s) child sexual abuse
investigative interviewing
police decision making
case authorisation
forensic interviewing
Summary In many jurisdictions, police officers are responsible for deciding whether cases of child abuse are referred for potential prosecution. Such discretion justifies the need to scrutinise these professionals' decisions to determine if they are consistent with the scientific eyewitness memory literature. Prior research has shown that interviewer questioning is one of the most critical factors impacting the reliability of child witness statements. Hence, we asked: 'To what degree do officers' consider the quality of interviewer questions when making case authorisation decisions?'. In order to answer this question, we conducted a thematic analysis to identify issues referred to in a sample of documented police correspondence (n=33) about potential prosecution of child abuse cases. Two key themes emerged: the existence of corroborative evidence and whether the suspect denied the allegations. Questioning technique, however, was not considered. All but one decision that referred to interview process focused on the presentation of the witness, even though the witness interviews (as a whole) did not adhere to recommended best-practice guidelines. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/10683160903025828
Field of Research 170104 Forensic Psychology
Socio Economic Objective 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2010, Taylor & Francis
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