Negotiating Domestic Violence: Police, Criminal Justice, and Victims

Negotiating Domestic Violence: Police, Criminal Justice, and Victims

Negotiating Domestic Violence: Police, Criminal Justice, and Victims

Negotiating Domestic Violence: Police, Criminal Justice, and Victims

Synopsis

This book examines the factors which shape the criminal justice response to domestic violence in the light of policy changes at the beginning of the 1990s which aimed to increase arrest rates. In particular, the book discusses the needs and expectations of victims and examines how their choices impact on decisions made by police and prosecutors. Many books on the criminal justice response to domestic violence start from the premise that withdrawal of complaints by victims and the subsequent discontinuance of cases, represents some kind of failure on the part of the agencies involved and that victims would benefit from greater determination by police to prosecute offenders wherever possible. Implicit in this approach is the assumption that the criminal justice system as it presently operates is capable of responding effectively to the needs of victims of domestic violence. This book throws doubt on the validity of these assumptions.

Excerpt

The Clarendon Studies in Criminology series was inaugurated in 1994 under the auspices of centres of criminology at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and the London School of Economics. There was a view that criminology in Britain and elsewhere was flowing with interesting work and that there was scope for a new dedicated series of scholarly books. The intention, declared Roger Hood, its first general editor, was to 'provide a forum for outstanding work in all aspects of criminology, criminal justice, penology, and the wider field of deviant behaviour.' We trust that that intention has been fulfilled. Some twenty titles have already been published, covering policing; prisons and prison administration; gender and crime; victims and victims' movements; the media reporting of crime news, and much else, and other will follow.

Negotiating Domestic Violence describes the policing of violence against women in the Thames Valley area, and it marks the convergence of three important intellectual movements in contemporary criminology: the established and successful tradition of ethnographic field studies of the police; the desire to appreciate the impact of the criminal justice process on women; and the emerging analysis of victims and victimization. Carolyn Hoyle is meticulous in her deployment of a variety of research methods, sources and intellectual stances to construct a detailed portrait of a complex, nuanced and embedded process. Policing is depicted as a special kind of pragmatic activity that employs 'cop culture' to mediate the demands of law and organizational management, on the one hand, and the contradictory and shifting exigencies of everyday life, on the other. Hoyle makes it evident how very difficult it is to make universal statements about the motives and meanings of such a process. She shows repeatedly that big generalizations cannot withstand the scrutiny supplied by thick description.

Some of the facile dichotomies which litter criminology are consequently revealed to be quite misleading. Hoyle contends, for example, that the police are neither engaged wholly in law enforcement nor in social service work, but that law enforcement is often a . . .

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