Rumney & McPhee

Title: Investigative specialism in cases of rape involving children and young people: victim care, multi-agency working and case progression  

Authors: Philip N.S. Rumney & Duncan McPhee

Keywords: Rape, Policing, Victims, Investigative specialism, Specialist units


This paper examines quantitative and qualitative data as part of a comparative analysis of the workings of a specialist rape investigation unit and a non-specialist investigative approach. The research indicates that the specialist unit outperformed the non-specialist investigative approach in many, though not all performance measures, including charging and ‘reached court’ rates, retention of cases characterised by complex victim vulnerability, allocation of Sexual Assault Investigation Trained (SAIT) officers, rate of referral to Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA) and accuracy of crime recording. Further, police officer interview data suggest that team working and support, communication and a sense of common purpose were distinctive features of the specialist unit, when contrasted to experience of working in a non-specialist policing environment. The paper examines these findings in the context of cases involving children and young people. The progression of these cases will be examined, along with standards of crime recording, investigative techniques and the use of multi-agency working in providing care for victims. The paper concludes by arguing that in cases involving children and young people there are multiple factors underpinning rape case attrition and progression, but certain investigative approaches adopted by the specialist unit did produce positive results. Further, the evaluation of police effectiveness should look beyond traditional performance metrics, such as charging and conviction rates, and examine issues of victim care and joint working as a means of encouraging victim engagement and ensuring victim welfare.

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Author 1: Philip N.S. Rumney, School of Law, De Montfort University

Author 2: Duncan McPhee, Dept. of Criminology, University of the West of England