Police Reporting Practices for Sexual Assault Cases in Which “The Victim Does Not Wish to Pursue Charges”


Prior research examining sexual assault case attrition has focused on the processing of cases across the justice system. Studies have examined arrest decision making and prosecutorial decision making in an attempt to better understand where and when cases drop out of the system. Less explored are police reporting practices during the initial stage of processing for cases in which the officer stated that the victim chose to drop her case. We addressed this gap in the literature by reviewing law enforcement incident reports at their onset, specifically; we examine reports of cases in which the officer reported the victim chose to drop the case. Results indicated that of the 125 cases of sexual assault reported to the police, 41 reports (32.8%) stated that the victim decided to no longer pursue charges. However, few police reports (30.2%) provided a clear rationale for why the victim decided to no longer pursue charges. Results of this study call for more standardized police reporting practices and point to the need for future research into the initial stage of law enforcement involvement in adult sexual assault cases.


Social Work, Prevention Innovations Research Center Pubs

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Journal of Interpersonal Violence


Sage Publications

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