Are rape cases closed because of rape stereotypes? Results from a Danish police district

Nina Beck Hansen, Maj Hansen, Rebecca Campbell, Ask Elklit, Ole Ingemann Hansen, Rikke Holm Bramsen

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Abstract

Research shows that the majority of reported rapes is never continued for prosecution but is closed during the police investigation. Studies suggest that rape assaults corresponding to stereotypes about “the real rape” and “the good victim” have a higher likelihood of continuing for prosecution. The aim of the present study was to investigate, if selected characteristics of rape stereotypes influenced investigational outcomes within a Danish police district participating in a multidisciplinary rape response team. The study was based on all reported rapes or rape attempts within a Danish police district over a three-year period (n = 248). Logistic regression analysis was used to investigate, if selected assault and victim characteristics influenced the likelihood of case continuing for prosecution. The following four prominent characteristics of rape stereotypes were selected for investigation: stranger perpetrator, no victim intoxication during the assault, presence of victim resistance and victim physical injuries, respectively. Results indicated that prominent characteristics of rape stereotypes significantly influenced whether the case was continued for prosecution. However, the independent effects of the investigated characteristics were not distinctively supportive of an investigative bias toward rape stereotypes. Even so, no victim intoxication during the assault and more physical injuries were found to increase the likelihood of case continuing for prosecution in this sample of reported rapes. Results are discussed in relation to the possible influence of a coordinated multidisciplinary rape response approach that characterized this sample.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Psychology
Volume71
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)51-61
ISSN1901-2276
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2. Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Rape
  • attrition
  • police
  • rape stereotypes
  • sexual assault

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