Female officers are more likely to give defendants in cases involving hunting an advantage than men, according to a report.
There are greater biases within the judiciary when considering charges for shooting, driving at speed, trespassing and avoiding lawful detentions, research found.
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This approach has greater implications for rural residents than in cases involving hunting, the report, published by Birkbeck, University of London, shows. From the police to the judiciary to the Department for Education, the statistics “are not of the same quality or integrity” as for non-rural cases, says the report published in the Britain and West Germany Review of Politics and Social Policy.
Female police officers are “predictably more likely to take on a prosecution of a potential defendant”, but men are unlikely to have opposing opinions when the issue is a matter of “permissible hunting” and not jousting in a bow-and-arrow contest, the researchers say.
The report, Hunting People and the British Criminal Justice System: Roles of Jury and Dispute Resolution, says: “The breadth of these approaches – and how judges assume hunting opponents to be ‘more reasonable’ than supporters – give rise to different aspects of convictions: It is unlikely that the perception by a professional judge that a defendant is a ‘fair and reasonable’ witness will be seen to make a defence case redundant. Similarly, it is also not likely that juries will be convinced on account of a member of the prosecution force being a woman.”
The report’s findings:
female police officers make more adversarial decisions and are more likely to take on prosecution cases
male police officers rarely direct “bias” against non-hunting defendants, but for hunting cases it is both male and female officers who are likely to take on more pro-defendant cases, even though no discernible difference is apparent in the judiciary
male judges of lower-level cases decide for prosecution in more cases than their female counterparts
female judges of higher-level cases continue to prosecute cases in the “more permissive” type even though the odds are against them
making the attacks on the credibility of witnesses more difficult
only 15% of hunting cases were subject to successful prosecution, with 53% dismissed