Feminism, power and politics in policing rape research: time for a paradigm shift

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Over the last 40 years, academics, activists and policymakers have attempted to improve police and criminal justice (CJ) responses to rape, yet attrition in rape cases continues to rise (ONS, 2021). Rape attrition studies have increasingly scrutinised the CJ process, initially in smaller scale, local research (for example, Lees and Gregory, 1993) and more recently through national analysis of the CJ outcomes of police reported cases (for example, ONS, 2021). While this has greatly enhanced understanding of why cases may drop out, the focus has increasingly been on explaining attrition in the hope of improving CJ outcomes, rather than victim-survivors’ voices and what they want from the process. Similarly, to explore attrition at the police stage, surveys have been undertaken with officers to understand their attitudes, including rape myth acceptance (for example, Sleath and Bull, 2012); again, with a focus on improving substantive CJ outcomes. In this article we call for researchers, activists and policymakers to pause and reflect upon the political and ideological reasons behind a focus on particular research questions using particular methodologies; and whether there is a need for more victim-survivor centred, indeed person-centred, research and practice where the focus is more on procedural justice rather than substantive justice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-188
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Gender-Based Violence
Issue number1
Early online date17 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council under a Standard Research Studentship.


  • methodology
  • police
  • power
  • procedural justice
  • rape
  • victim-survivor centred practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Feminism, power and politics in policing rape research: time for a paradigm shift'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this