Explaining Police Arresting and Charging Behavior in Cases of Spousal Violence

Paul Millar, University of Calgary

Family violence is a major social problem that police forces began to deal with over the last two decades. Most research and policy on this subject has focused on the effect of police action on the prevention of violence against women. This is a study of police arrest and charging behaviour in spousal violence cases that includes both genders and so allows the analysis of police response to violence against men as well as women. Factors affecting the likelihood of an arrest or charge in spousal violence cases are analyzed using a two-year sample of spousal violence police cases (N-2,935) from a medium-sized Canadian city. Three models were developed investigating the effects of marital status, intoxication, degree of injury to either the man or woman, use of a weapon and a repeat call to the same address on the odds of an arrest, the odds of a charge being lad and if charged, the seriousness of the charge. Results indicate differential effects of intoxication and injury by gender of the victim on all dependent variables. These results are compared with population studies of spousal violence in both Canada and the United States.

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Updated 05/20/2006