Tracking Police Arrests of Intimate Partner Domestic Abuse Suspects in London: a Situational Factors Analysis

Richards, Owain 
Harinam, Vincent 

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Abstract: Research Question: What were the odds of named suspects being arrested for a reported crime of intimate partner abuse over one 12-month period in one area of London (UK), and how did those odds vary across twelve predictive situational characteristics, including the presence or absence of the suspect? Data: This study analyses 1000 intimate partner domestic abuse (DA) crimes recorded in the South West Basic Command Unit of the London Metropolitan Police Service in the 12 months between 1 February 2018 and 31 January 2019. Methods: Twelve factors present at the time of police recording an intimate partner abuse crime were analysed in an odds ratio analysis predicting whether a named suspect would be arrested for the crime. Separate analyses were conducted for cases in which the suspect was present at the time police arrived to interview the victim and in cases in which the suspect was absent. Analyses were also conducted by crime type and crime severity scores, with a descriptive analysis of reasons police gave for not making arrests. Findings: Police arrested the suspect in 90% of the 287 cases in which suspects were present when police arrived, and in 47% of the 713 cases in which the suspect was absent on arrival. There was no difference in crime severity scores between cases in which arrests were made vs. not. After suspect absence, victim unwillingness to press charges was the second strongest predictor of no arrest being made, with 21% reported unwilling to cooperate when suspects were present and 29% unwilling when suspects were absent. Arrests were more likely when suspects were male than female and less likely with male victims than female victims. Conclusions: These data show that in an area housing about 12% of London’s population, police make arrests in 90% of intimate partner crimes when the suspect is still present at the scene, and almost half of those in which suspects leave before police arrive. The primary predictor of non-arrest, controlling for offender absence, is victim unwillingness to support prosecution. Various policy options can be considered in light of these findings.

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Article, Intimate partner abuse, Arrest, Tracking, Predictive factors
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Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing
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Springer International Publishing