Dr Olivia Smith

PhD Sociology (University of Bath), MRes Sociology (University of Bath), BSc Hons Social Sciences (University of Bath)

  • Senior Lecturer in Criminology & Social Policy
  • Research and Innovation Director

Olivia joined the School from her previous role at Anglia Ruskin University in September 2019. Her PhD research, obtained from the University of Bath in 2014, examined court responses to rape and led to the development of Vera Baird’s court observer panel in Northumbria. Olivia’s research has been used as an evidence-base on rape justice by the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, as well as third sector organisations such as Rape Crisis. Olivia is also a member of the British Society of Criminology’s Victims Network working group and previously convened the British Sociology Association’s Violence Against Women Study Group.

Olivia’s research broadly focuses on justice responses to violence. Her PhD research used court observation methods to explore English and Welsh rape trials, identifying gendered narratives of credibility that intersected with other social inequalities to undermine the evidence of sexual violence complainants. Olivia has also conducted interview and survey research with support workers to identify concerns about state compensation (via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme) for sexual offences. This led to an attitude survey of 2,000 members of the public in order to provide an evidence base for a Ministry of Justice review of compensation. Elsewhere, Olivia has undertaken research on under-reporting in disability hate crime and on evaluations of therapeutic interventions for sexual violence.

Olivia’s teaching is mainly focused on inequality and violence, particularly seeking to understand the causes behind such crime and how best to respond when it occurs. Modules that Olivia contributes towards include:

  • Criminological Theory
  • Women & Crime
  • The Criminal Justice System in England and Wales
  • Introducing Criminology

Olivia is available to supervise PhDs relating to all forms of violence against women and/or minoritized groups, notions of justice, sexual scripts and consent, and intersectional injustices.

Current Doctoral Students

  • Ellen Daly, ‘Justice must be seen to be done: Intersectional observations of rape trials’
  • Charlotte Herriott, ‘Is the jury out on sexual history? A mock juror study of sexual history evidence deliberations’
  • Jo Durston, ‘Analysing image-based sexual abuse as a collective male behaviour’


Smith, O. (2018). Rape Trials in England and Wales: Observing Justice and Rethinking Rape Myths. Basingstoke: Palgrave (https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783319756738)

Book Chapters & Journal Articles

Reports & Briefings

  • Smith, O., Daly, E. & Herriott, C. (2019). Sexual Offences and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme: Research Briefing. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.16776.67844/1
  • Smith, O. & Daly, E. (2018). Reporting Disability Hate Crime in Essex: End of Project Report. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.20702.28483