Policing Sex Crimes offers an overview of the affordances and difficulties of investigating and responding to sex crimes in contemporary digital society. The simplest to most complex sex crimes investigations can (and often do) have a digital component. Such a digital society creates a number of inter- and intra-organizational challenges in terms of investigation of sex offenses and response to victims of sex crimes. In the proposed text, the authors elucidate laws defining sex crimes across international contexts and examine the different ways nation states have responded to digital sex crimes and related digital communication technologies via laws, policies, and practices. They draw on 70 interviews with sex crime investigators to document the effects of digital sex crimes on the policing profession and the broader police organizations that sex crime investigators work. Lastly, they explore how victims are interpreted by police officers and the challenges they face achieving justice in the wake of sexual victimization.
Dale Spencer is associate professor and Faculty of Public Affairs' Research Excellence Chair in the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Rosemary Ricciardelli is professor (PhD, Sociology) in the School of Maritime Studies and Research Chair in Safety, Security, and Wellness, at Memorial University of Newfoundland's Fisheries and Maritime Institute.
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Sex Crimes, Law, and Technology
Chapter 3. ‘This Isn’t Your Father’s Police Force’: Digital Evidence in Sex Crime Investigations and the Need for Digital Policing
Chapter 4. “Society Wants to See a True Victim”: Police Interpretations of Victims of Sexual Violence
Chapter 5. Collaborative Policing and Networked Responses to Victims of Sex Crimes
Chapter 6. Cynicism, Dirty Work, and Policing Sex Crimes
Chapter 7. Conclusion
About the Authors
Policing Sex Crimes represents a significant and much needed contribution to the research on police investigation. With access to data from 70 interviews, Spencer and Ricciardelli offer a unique opportunity to peer behind the glamorous images of such work in mainstream media, revealing instead a complex picture of how both investigators and victims are often forced to navigate incredibly difficult legal, emotional and psychological terrain.
In Policing Sex Crimes, Professors Spencer and Ricciardelli significantly advance our understanding of an aspect of police work that has received insufficient attention. Drawing upon an impressive cross-Canada sample of interviews with officers working in sex crimes units, the authors shine a light on such topics as the increasingly technologized aspect of policing, the ‘victim support’ role provided by officers, and the moral taint surrounding ‘sex crimes’ officers. The concluding chapter is noteworthy for its consideration of this type of policing as a form of ‘dirty work’ that officers undertake on behalf of a society that is eager to ‘do something’ about sex crimes, but which is happy to have unseen others engage in the distasteful, shocking, and psychologically traumatizing realities of such work.