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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Professor Nicole Westmarland

Bows, Hannah & Westmarland, Nicole (2017). Rape of Older People In The United Kingdom: Challenging The ‘Real Rape’ Stereotype. British Journal of Criminology 57(1): 1-17.

Author(s) from Durham


Despite extensive research on rape and sexual violence, there exists an important gap in knowledge around older victims. This gap exists in relation to national statistics (the Crime Survey for England and Wales has an upper age limit of 59 for intimate violence), and by both criminologists and gerontologists. This research used an under-utilized method by criminologists—freedom of information requests to police forces. Data were obtained from 45 forces relating to 655 cases of rape and sexual assault by penetration over a five-year period and were analysed in relation to victim and perpetrator age, relationship, location of crime and type of offence. The findings challenge the dominant real-rape stereotypes and have implications for future research, policy and practice.