‘This statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief’: a provisional assessment of the utility of police victim statements in the qualitative understanding of domestic violence and abuse

Hopkins, Anna and Miller, Paul K. (2022). ‘This statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief’: a provisional assessment of the utility of police victim statements in the qualitative understanding of domestic violence and abuse. Journal of Gender-Based Violence (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/239868021x16528076885500

Abstract

Understanding the factors that influence the decisions made by victims of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) has, for some time, been a key area of focus for professionals working within the Criminal Justice System and academic researchers alike. Using female victims’ reported decision-making around incidences of DVA as an illustrative case study, this article analyses N=120 police victim statements (PVSs), collected by officers in one force in Northwest England. The usefulness of a PVS as a form of qualitative research data to better understand DVA is examined by means of a deductive content analysis.

Drawing on the literature addressing decision-making by victims in DVA, a simple coding frame was developed to provide a structure for the initial investigation of the PVSs to examine the type of data contained in these legal documents. Findings suggest that, while they have some limitations, PVSs are a valuable and currently under-utilised form of qualitative data to research and understand victim decision-making in DVA.

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