This book reports the findings of empirical work, conducted for my doctoral thesis, on policing domestic violence. This study, conducted in the Thames Valley, sought to understand the factors which shape the police and Crown Prosecution Service responses to domestic violence in the light of policy changes which recommended arrest in such cases. It responded to a gap in the literature on domestic violence between studies of the police response on the one hand, and studies based on victims' experiences on the other. This book places the victim firmly within an understanding of the response of the criminal justice system, in that it examines, amongst other things, the impact of victims' needs, desires and expectations on decisions made by police and prosecutors.
Whilst it draws on feminist theoretical and empirical work, the approach of this book could not be described as feminist. Rather, it takes as its theoretical perspective social interactionism but, unlike many works of interpretive sociology, it does not exclude the influence of structure. In looking at the response of the criminal justice system, it questions the assumption that this system, as it presently operates, is capable of responding effectively to the needs of victims of domestic violence.
All research projects rely on numerous people for advice and support. This was no exception. First I would like to thank the Economic and Social Research Council which funded my D.Phil., having already funded my M.Sc. I am indebted to Chief Constable Charles Pollard for his permission to conduct the research in two busy areas of the Thames Valley Police and, more generally, for his support of the work of the Centre for Criminological Research. Chief Superintendents David Lindley, Ralph Perry, and Caroline Nichol were particularly generous with their time and access to their staff and other resources.
Many other people, including control room operators, administrative support staff, shift inspectors, and station duty officers assisted the fieldwork and ensured that the time I spent in the stations was both productive and enjoyable. A great debt is owed