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Police Intervention and Public Opinion (From Legal Responses to Wife Assault: Current Trends and Evaluation, P 37-61, 1993, N Zoe Hilton, ed. -- See NCJ-144041)

NCJ Number
N Z Hilton
Date Published
25 pages
This paper first reviews what is known about public and police attitudes toward wife assault and then describes a study in which researchers explored some of the factors that distinguish assaults that are viewed by the public as more or less deserving of legal response; some implications for policing practice are considered.
Although the police and the public do not generally condone wife assault, their perceptions of it can affect their support for the use of arrest and filing charges in wife assault cases. The study described in this paper revealed that the public views criminal charges for assaults against women as most useful for cases of repeat offenses by strangers. The public recommended that charges be filed in wife assault cases approximately 45 percent of the time. Referring the victim to alternative (social, medical, or legal) services was recommended predominantly for cases of wife assault, especially recidivist wife assault. Both the preference for arrest and the related variable, perception of blame, are complexly determined. The current study, along with previous research, shows that people place blame largely on the offender but are influenced by the offender-victim relationship, the victim's contribution to the assault, and other variables. Overall, the public views wife assault as a serious offense that requires some intervention. The extent and nature of intervention deemed appropriate depend on a number of individual and situational variables. Attention to public opinion is important in the development of acceptable policing policies. 50 references