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A survey of police officers' and prosecutors' beliefs about crime victim behaviors

Journal article
Authors Karl Ask
Published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume 25
Pages 1132-1149
Publication year 2010
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 1132-1149
Language en
Keywords crime victims, rape, self-presentation, false reports, beliefs
Subject categories Psychology, Applied Psychology

Abstract

A survey of police officers (n = 211) and prosecutors (n = 190) in Sweden was conducted to assess law personnel’s beliefs about the behaviors and reactions of victims of violent crimes. There were considerable differences in the expected behavioral display of different types of crime victims, with rape and domestic assault victims seen as particularly prone to expressive self-presentation and self-blame. Despite empirical evidence showing otherwise, most respondents thought that crime victims’ nonverbal and emotional expression is to some extent related to the truthfulness of their accounts. However, educational efforts appeared to have a corrective influence on such beliefs. The perceived prevalence of false reports differed across crime types, with rape and mugging receiving particularly high estimates. Police officers believed false reports to be more common than did prosecutors. Time constraints were seen, especially by prosecutors, as an impediment to appropriate treatment of crime victims. Potential explanations for occupational differences and limitations associated with the survey methodology are discussed.

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