Five Pillars: A framework for transforming the police response to rape and sexual assault

Five Pillars: A framework for transforming the police response to rape and sexual assault

International Criminology

The ‘justice gap’ for cases of rape and sexual assault is well-documented. Despite our rich understanding of the problem, its visibility in the public sphere, and state commitments to increasing charge and conviction rates, the justice gap is getting larger in the Western World. On a practical level, police are gatekeepers of outcome justice—arrests, charges, and convictions. As representatives of the state and society, police also wield significant symbolic power in defining the faultline between behaviour that is deemed ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. In this article we propose a theory-based and practice-oriented framework for transforming the police response to rape and sexual assault that draws on the large body of feminist literature on sexual violence and criminal justice responses, in combination with policing literature. This framework comprises five pillars: (1) suspect-focused investigations; (2) disrupting repeat offenders; (3) a procedural justice approach to victim-survivor engagement; (4) officer learning, wellbeing, and organisational change; and (5) the use of data. We conclude with a discussion of its practical implementation and empirical validation.

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Hohl, K., Stanko, E.A. Five Pillars: A Framework for Transforming the Police Response to Rape and Sexual Assault. Int Criminol (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s43576-022-00057-y

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