An Analysis of Consecutive Child Sexual Abuse Investigations and Prosecutions by the Christchurch Police Child Abuse Unit
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
Objective: This present study sought to explore officially reported allegations of child sexual abuse made to the Christchurch Police Child Abuse Unit. Demographic details of the victim and alleged offender, case characteristics and the proportion of investigated cases that progressed to the court system were analysed. Method: The first sample consisted of all 125 reported allegations of child sexual abuse from 1st January 2004 to 28th July 2004 (7 months). The second sample consisted of all 67 prosecuted child sexual abuse cases from 20th February 2003 to 28th July 2004. Results: Differences between prosecuted and not prosecuted cases were found with respect to child age and gender and the alleged offender's age, sex and relationship to the child. Child sexual abuse was likely to involve an offender who is known to the victim and male alleged offenders were significantly more likely to be prosecuted than females. Sixty percent of offenders had previous convictions, which were twice as likely to be for non-sexual offences as for sexual offences. Of the investigated cases, 33% resulted in charges being laid against the alleged offender. Of these prosecuted cases, 81% resulted in a conviction and 89% of convicted adult offenders received a prison sentence. Conclusion: The present study provides an insight into the characteristics of child sexual abuse investigations. Recommendations are made for similar studies within other Police regions of New Zealand to enable regional comparisons of trends and differences.