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Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse
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Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse fills a gap for an authoritative and considered text focused on false accusations of recent or historical abuse, both as a miscarriage of justice and as an ordeal which impairs lives even when it does not result in criminal charges. It brings together experts from different disciplinary backgrounds and relevant specialisms to explicate the context, causes, and processes that foster erroneous or fabricated allegations and to consider ways of reducing their incidence and the injustices that follow them. While there has been a welcome increase in policies which address child abuse, rape and other sexual offences, these tend to neglect or disavow the diametrical problem of false allegations of such offences. It is inherent in the, typically, unwitnessed and physically uncorroborated nature of these 'hidden' crimes that they are difficult to prosecute; but also to disprove if no crime has been committed. It is right that all allegations of abuse are treated as believable and are rigorously investigated, but it is not in the interest of any progressive and robust system of justice to convict or malign innocent people. Approached from this more controversial perspective, the five parts of this volume chart the life-course of an untrue allegation. Beginning with the nature, extent and harm of false abuse allegations, the cultural and political context giving rise to false allegations, and then the causal and motivational factors for making them, are explored, before addressing the role and impact of the criminal justice system when handling such cases. The final part looks at the ways such concerns might be addressed whilst remaining mindful of victims of abuse and their suffering. Tackling an under-researched and under-discussed area, Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse offers thoughtful and thought-provoking discourses around an understandably difficult and sensitive area. It will be essential reading for academics and students of criminology, sociology, criminal justice, criminal law, socio-legal studies, and psychology, as well as those working with victims of false allegations, and police and specialist practitioners dealing with sexual offences and child abuse.
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Table of Contents

PART I: THE REALITY OF WRONGFUL ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE WHAT KIND OF ALLEGATIONS AND WHY DO THEY MATTER?; PART II: CULTURE, IDEOLOGY, POLITICS WHAT IS THE TERRAIN THAT GIVES RISE TO FALSE ALLEGATIONS?; PART III: THE ALLEGATION: CAUSES, MOTIVATIONS, CASE-STUDIES WHY WOULD ANYONE MAKE A FALSE ACCUSATION?; PART IV: INTERROGATION, PROSECUTION, CONVICTION, APPEAL HOW COULD THE JUSTICE SYSTEM GET IT SO WRONG?; PART V: FINDING WAYS FORWARD WHAT'S TO BE DONE?

About the Author

Ros Burnett is a Senior Research Associate, formerly Reader in Criminology, at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, which she joined in 1990 after gaining a DPhil in social psychology at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford. Her research areas include interpersonal relationships; rehabilitation of offenders and desistance from crime; and wrongful allegations of sexual and child abuse. Her most recent book was Where Next for Criminal Justice? (co-authored with David Faulkner) published by The Policy Press, 2011. Recent voluntary work includes research and information consultant to FACT, the support group for falsely accused, and she is an associate editor of the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.

Reviews

The one thing this book isn't, most emphatically isn't, is a demolition of any particular claims of sexual abuse. It is far, far, cleverer than that. It is a careful analysis, expert by expert, of the psychological pressures that might lead to a wrongful allegation; of the ways in which policing methods may contribute towards this; the economic pressures on therapists and personal injury lawyers; how judicial thinking is formulated and best of all, several chapters on how we could move forward in the future, in the best interests of both complainants and defendants ... I hope that people, particularly journalists and activists, from both sides of the great divide as the issue of historic allegations of abuse has become, will read this book, cover to cover. If you are going to argue, debate, or be an activist on the subject - then you should be in possession of all the facts. * Susan Cameron-Blackie * Happily - if anything can be so described in such a context - Oxford University Press published Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse, edited by a senior research associate at that university's Centre for Criminology, Ros Burnett. Its 21 contributions from experts in this field, both legal and academic, set out how public horror at the thought of sexual abuse of children has led even apparently sophisticated legal systems into extraordinary injustices. * Dominic Lawson, The Sunday Times * This is an important book which raises serious issues not only for academics but also for criminal justice policy-makers, practitioners and commentators. It illuminates some troubling features of the justice system in Britain and the United States and of modern western society more generally. It deserves to be widely read, not least by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse which the British Government set up in 2014. * David Faulkner CB, Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford * The experience of those accused of such heinous crimes is little explored and understood. This month, a new book is published Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse - making an important contribution to the debate. * Jon Robins, Criminal Law & Justice Weekly * The book, part academic, part polemic, is an essential read for any and all involved in the criminal justice system - which means everyone: investigators, interviewers, social workers, police, prosecutors, defenders, judges and the public (as potential jurors). To me, this book is a genuine 21-faceted diamond - and how, how, I wish it was available some 25 years ago. As a whole, it is one large cautionary tale. To finish on a practical note for criminal lawyers: this book is a virtual directory containing a gallery of experts, their expertise and their experience, with excerpts of their work. If for no other reason than that, you may want to think of acquiring it - or, at the very least, consulting a copy. But if you do just try to use it as a directory, I venture the thought that the content, its substance and its strength, will lay a hold on you. * Nigel Hampton QC, LawTalk * This is a ground-breaking book. It will undoubtedly become a major reference work for criminologists, sociologists, legal researchers and legal professionals. It deserves also to be read by policy makers, parliamentarians and social commentators ... The arbitrary nature of false allegations are discussed with a clarity that is thought-provoking ... An authoritative and ambitious book which exposes the injustice of untrue allegations. * Dr Kevin Felstead, British False Memory Society * A very important academic contribution to an increasingly worrying contemporary debate. * Sir Henry Brooke * It should ... become required study for all those whose task it is to assess the truthfulness and reliability of allegations of sexual assault police investigators, prosecution lawyers and trial judges. * Anthony Heaton-Armstrong, Counsel Magazine. * Ros Burnett ... does a wonderful job of rounding up highly respected and credible professionals from the US, UK and New Zealand as contributors to this book. Given Burnetts prior experience as a Probation Officer, it makes her own contributions to this topic all the more insightful ... It is extremely refreshing and due time to have a reference book such as this that honestly talks about the fallibility of the justice system, misguided police officers, harmful social policies based on errant moral crusades, and the devastating human consequences of wrongful allegations and convictions. * Clary Jaxon, Canadian Association for Equality * Ros Burnett has brought together a fantastic collection of contributors that cover almost every area of false accusations. * Dr Denis Jones, FACT *

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