Today, far too many rape victims continue to encounter the old sexist and racist responses to rape from family, friends, acquaintances, and even the police. This is not to say that practices are not changing. Today our society is in the midst of making great changes in its understanding of the injuries and injustices of rape victims. Only a generation ago, as recently as 1970, there were no rape crisis centers and no national studies on rape. Police rarely took reports, rape victims rarely got justice, and rape was almost always considered the fault of the victim. These negative outcomes were largely the result of negative 'old' police attitudes rooted in police culture and practices towards rape victims. Throughout this essay I plan to examine the concept of police culture and the effect it has concerning rape victims and the attitudes police take in dealing with rape cases. I will be looking at past police negative attitudes and practices regarding rape and evaluating whether these still exist.
Policing is one of the world's most masculinised occupations. Policing originally grew from a military background in the nineteenth century. Police drew from army corps or militia for its first recruits and adapted a military model for its uniform, its promotional structure and its culture. It is still evident today how some police forces continue to be strictly hierarchical organisations with deeply sexist views about women. It is clear to see that policing not only has a distinctive culture, but that the symbols of policing for example its formal organisational structures and informal practices are mainly male and white. One of the significant factors in fashioning policing from a military model is the requirement, on occasions, to use force. This has influenced the requirements for a disciplined structure, style of uniforms and equipment. As a result the police officer projects authority, courage and calm which has been translated into a sometimes typical macho image or stereotype.
Machismo, intolerance, prejudice and conservatism are also regarded as characteristic features of police culture which has led researchers to ask whether these characteristics reflect those who choose a career in policing of whether these behaviours are learnt and linked with the nature of policing work itself. (Newburn 2003)
It is clear to see that police culture undoubtedly comprises a distinct body of values, attitudes, rules and practices which influences in various ways the manner in which police officers exercise their discretion. Foremost among all values, attitudes, and practices of the police culture is the bond of solidarity between officers. In an environment perceived as hostile and unpredictable, the police culture offers its members reassurance that the other officers will 'pull their weight' in police work, that they will defend, back up and assist their colleagues when confronted with external threats, and that they...