Rape politics, policies and practice: exploring the tensions and unanticipated consequences of well-intended victim-focused measures

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


The inability of the criminal justice system to respond effectively to rape has led to numerous law and policy reforms in England and Wales. Nevertheless, difficulties remain, with problems often linked to the impact of rape myths and implementation failure. This article, however, adopts a different lens through which to explore the ongoing challenges faced by rape complainants. Drawing on interviews with 14 barristers in the north‐west of England, the article asks: how have rape law and policy reforms impacted practice for this group of practitioners? The findings highlight that numerous tensions emerged from these reforms. In particular, measures that were perceived to be politically driven and well intended were often perceived to generate unanticipated negative consequences for complainants, as opposed to improving their experience. In concluding, we emphasise the importance of a close working practice between the policy maker and practitioner, in order to institute more effective responses.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-52
JournalHoward Journal of Crime and Justice
Issue number1
Early online date15 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2017


  • barristers, criminal justice practice, feminism, policies, politics, rape, victims