Professor Joanne Conaghan - inaugural lecture
Professor Joanne Conaghan, Professor of Law
Wills Memorial Building, Queen's Road, Bristol, BS8 1RJ
Free to attend, but booking required via the online form.
If you require additional support for any of the lectures, e.g. wheelchair access or sign language interpretation, please contact Laura Bagley at the earliest opportunity and we will endeavour to meet your request.
Civil liability - Addressing police failures in the context of rape and sexual abuse
The question of police attitudes to and conduct of rape complaints has been in the British public eye now for some time. A damning succession of studies have catalogued police failings, from initial reporting through to final disposition of a case, generating a mountain of data evidencing deep structural, institutional, and cultural problems going to the heart of the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. Located within a broader policy context of growing concern over the low rate of convictions for rape cases and set against a backdrop of substantial reform of rape law, not just in England and Wales but around the globe, the police handling of rape investigations has attracted repeated criticism and public scrutiny. Time and time again, the public is reassured that lessons have been learned, mistakes corrected, and policies put in place only to have hopes dashed by yet another, statistic, study, or public outcry. One cannot help but despair at the seeming intractability of the problem. What does it take to bring about transformative cultural and institutional change in the context of investigating and prosecuting rape? This lecture assesses the strategic potential of civil liability suits as a way of bringing about the desired change. Should the victims of sexual crimes be able to sue the police for failures in the investigative process and what are the broader possibilities and risks which such a strategy might entail?