Accessible Justice? Rape Victimisation and Psychosocial Disability


  • Louise Ellison University of Leeds
  • Vanessa Munro University of Nottingham.
  • Katrin Hohl City University, London
  • Paul Wallang St Andrew's Healthcare.



rape complaints, psychosocial disability, police responses to rape, rape attrition


In a context in which research evidence indicates high rates of alleged sexual victimization amongst adults with psychosocial disabilities (PSD), this paper sets out to explore some of the challenges that are posed to the criminal justice system by these types of complainants. We do so by drawing upon rape allegation data recently collected by the London Metropolitan Police Service over a two month period. Our analysis of this snapshot of Metropolitan Police rape reporting suggests that a significant number of rape complainants have recorded PSDs, and that these complainants are significantly more likely than those without recorded PSDs to experience additional, circumstantial vulnerabilities, including intellectual disability, alcohol and/or drug dependency, and repeat victimisation. Our findings also suggest that cases involving complainants with recorded PSDs are significantly more likely to suffer attrition – to ‘drop out’ of the criminal justice system - due to police or prosecutorial decision-making. In this paper we reflect upon possible explanations for this heightened attrition rate but also use our snapshot analysis as a stepping off point from which to highlight the need for more sustained critical research on the treatment of complainants, and the adequacy of police and prosecutor training and practice in this area.

Author Biographies

Louise Ellison, University of Leeds

Professor of Law, University of Leeds, UK.

Vanessa Munro, University of Nottingham.

Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, University of Nottingham, UK.

Katrin Hohl, City University, London

Lecturer in Criminology, City University London, UK.

Paul Wallang, St Andrew's Healthcare.

Consultant Psychiatrist, St Andrew's Healthcare, UK.




How to Cite

Ellison, L., Munro, V., Hohl, K., & Wallang, P. (2015). Accessible Justice? Rape Victimisation and Psychosocial Disability. Feminists@law, 5(1).



Investigating Rape