Gallagher, Bernard (1999) Understanding the attrition of cases of child sexual abuse and neglect in the criminal justice system. Technical Report. ESRC.

Research on the processing of child abuse cases has been dominated by a focus on the preparation of cases for criminal trial. However, police statistics indicate that the large majority of cases (as many as 85 per cent) are terminated, either by the police or the Crown Prosecution Service, before this stage. The police may decide not to charge, and the CPS may decline advise cases or decide not to prosecute. General child sexual abuse studies show that the termination or attrition of cases may have a significant negative effect upon childrens welfare, agency working, and the delivery of justice. This research aims to identify the number and characteristics of child sexual abuse cases that are terminated at each stage of the criminal justice process; and to determine the reasons why cases are terminated and the effects that this has upon children, non-abusing parents/carers, and agency workers. The study will assess the broader implications of attrition for the criminal justice sysytem, and reveal the extent to which, and circumstances in which, attrition should be reduced. A search will be made of records for the 1,000 most recently completed child sexual abuse cases in six police forces across England and Wales. Interviews will be conducted with a police officer and CPS official (where applicable) in a random sample of 200 of these cases. Postal questionnaires will be sent to the social workers responsible for these 200 cases.

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