Dr Olivia Smith

Senior Lecturer, Criminology

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Criminology , Policing

Courses taught: Criminology, Criminology and Sociology, Psychology and Criminology

Olivia specialises in researching violence against women, particularly court responses to rape and sexual assault. She teaches on violence, social inequalities, and general criminology and criminal justice theories.

Twitter: @droliviasmith

Email: olivia.smith@anglia.ac.uk


Having completed her PhD on court responses to rape at the University of Bath, Olivia joined Anglia Ruskin University in 2014. Olivia's research on violence against women has been shortlisted for the 2013 Corinna Seith Award and the 2014 Ede & Ravenscroft Bath Prize. Olivia previously co-convened the British Sociological Association's Violence Against Women Study Group as well as working with women involved in prostitution at the Rahab Project.

Olivia teaches a variety of modules at Anglia Ruskin University, often around violence and the meaning of justice. Her teaching centres on an intersectional analysis, identifying the many ways that social inequalities impact on crime and criminology.

Research interests

  • Violence against women and responses
  • The criminal justice system, particularly the courts
  • Feminist criminology
  • Rape and sexual assault
  • Adversarial culture

Olivia's main area of research is court and criminal justice responses to sexual violence, particularly rape and sexual assault. Olivia continues to examine justice responses to violence and has recently conducted research into state compensation for rape survivors and the role of police in responding to disability hate crime. In order to make sure her research actually makes a difference, she regularly works with practitioners and support services, as well as discussing her work with policy-makers. Vera Baird QC recently piloted her recommendation of creating court observer panels in Northumbria.

Areas of research supervision

  • Intersectional analysis of sex offence trials in England and Wales
  • Women's mothering identities in Pakistani prisons
  • The social nature of online misogyny and violence against women
  • Practitioners' views of violence in the name of so-called 'honour'


Current modules taught:

  • Crime News & Criminology (Level 4)
  • Project Preparation (Level 5)
  • Violent Crime (Level 5)


  • PhD Sociology, University of Bath 
  • MRes Sociology, University of Bath
  • BSc (Hons) Social Sciences, University of Bath (1st Class)

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Essex Police Study: Reporting disability hate crime. Delivery date: March 2018

Selected recent publications

Books, Book Chapters & Journal Articles

Smith, O. (2018, in press). Rape Trials in England and Wales: Observing Justice and Rethinking Rape Myths. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

Smith, O. (2018, under contract). Stereotypes, Credibility and Adversarial Justice in English and Welsh Rape Trials. In: Andersson, U., Edgren, M., Karlsson, L. & Nilsson, G., Rape Narratives in Motion. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

Smith, O. & Galey, J. (2017). Supporting rape survivors through the English Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme: An exploration of Independent Sexual Violence Advisor's experiences. Violence Against Women. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801217727373

Smith, O. (2017). The practicalities of English and Welsh rape trials: Observations and avenues for improvement. Criminology & Criminal Justice. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1748895817702508

Smith, O. & Skinner, T. (2017). How rape myths are used and challenged at court. Social & Legal Studies, 26(4), 441-466

Smith, O. & Skinner, T. (2012) Observing Court Responses to Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault. Feminist Criminology, 7(4), 298-326

Reports & Briefings

Smith, O. (2018). Sexual History Evidence in Rape Trials. Policy Briefing.

Smith, O. (2018). Rape Trials: Legal Representation. Policy Briefing.

Smith, O. (2018). Rape Trials: Court Observation Panels. Policy Briefing.

Westmarland, N; Brown, J; Smith, O. & Smailes, J. (2015). Cost-Benefit Analysis of Specialist Police Rape Teams: Phase Three Report. London: Association of Chief Police Officers.

Smith, O. & Skinner, T. (2015). Court Responses to Rape and Sexual Assault: Policy Brief. Institute for Policy Research.

Smith, O. & Skinner, T. (2015). Court Responses to Rape and Sexual Assault in the United Kingdom. Topical Problems of Criminal Law and Criminology in the Light of Criminal Justice Reforming: Collection of Materials from International Conference. Ed. Kharkiv National University/Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

Impact & Engagement Articles

Smith, O. (January, 2018, in press). Is sexual history fair game? A response to Ali Naseem Bajwa QC and Eva Niculiu on the implications of the Ched Evans case one year on. Criminal Law & Justice Weekly.

Smith, O. (September, 2017). Underage girls can’t consent to sex. It’s time the Government realises that. i News

Smith, O. & Skinner, T. (September, 2017) How rape myths are used and challenged in rape and sexual assault trials. Social & Legal Studies Blog. 

Smith, O. (January, 2017). Rape victims shouldn’t have to pay for their own justice through the civil courts. The Independent.

Smith, O. (October, 2016). Three questions on rape justice after the Ched Evans not guilty verdict. The Conversation.

Smith, O. (October, 2016). The justice that lies behind It's Not JusticeIt's Not Justice.

Media experience

As well as writing for the I and The Independent herself, Olivia’s research has received media attention. For example:

The Independent (April 2017). Rape victims with records of minor offences regularly denied compensation

The Times (April 2017). Rape victims with criminal record are denied damages

Rochdale Online (April 2017). Tony Lloyd slams ‘unacceptable’ barriers to victim compensation

Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner (April 2017). Mayor slams 'unacceptable' barriers to victim compensation

The Independent on Sunday (February 2015). Court guidelines for rape victims 'are not working'

The Independent (February 2015). Letter from Vera Baird thanking Olivia Smith for recommended a court observer scheme, being piloted in Northumbria.

The Times (February 2015). News in Brief segment on specialist courts, discussing Olivia's IPR policy briefing report.

Radio 4 Women's Hour (July 2011). Rape victims in court - are changes needed? Olivia Smith and Jeremy Dein QC debate.