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Dr Kelly Johnson

Assistant Professor


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Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology104, 29 Old Elvet 


My areas of research expertise include domestic and sexual violence, policing, and feminist sociolegal studies. I have particular research experience in the policing of domestic and sexual violence, cyberflashing, image-based sexual abuse and feminist theory.

As a researcher, I am passionate about academic research being used to generate impact, collaboration, and positive social change. To this effect, my research has achieved significant impact to date; it has been used to inform key policy developments, professional practice, and has featured widely in the media.

Through my research I have collaborated with high profile organisations such as the Home Office, the College of Policing and National Police Chiefs Council, and several police forces, as well as with technology companies including Facebook and IBM, to advance research and innovation in institutional responses to violence and abuse. Outside of the academy, I have worked at several third-sector domestic and sexual violence organisations, including Rape Crisis and Scottish Women’s Aid centres as a volunteer.

For any research, training, media or consultancy enquiries please contact me directly by email.


My research expertise sits across three key areas:

Policing Responses to Domestic and Sexual Violence

• Police rape investigations in England and Wales, via Project Bluestone - particularly focussing on victim engagement and procedural justice (ongoing)

• The impact of Covid-19 on domestic abuse reported to the police (ongoing):

• An ethnography of police responses to domestic abuse (ongoing)

• Police use of discretion in domestic abuse risk identification and assessment (while on secondment to the College of Policing)

• Police operationalisation of the coercive control offence in England and Wales

• Police use of ‘out of court’ resolutions when engaging with domestic abuse-related crime

• I am additionally the co-founder of the international Policing Domestic Abuse Network – to join our network list, please sign up via the following link:

Image-based Sexual Abuse and Cyberflashing

• Cyberflashing (i.e. unsolicited genital images): its extent and nature, harms, criminal justice responses and options for law reform

• Image-based sexual abuse: its extent, nature and nature, harms, victim-survivor experiences, criminal justice responses, and options for law reform.

European Women’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse

• Ethnographic research examining European women’s experiences of domestic abuse and service engagement in the UK, through a critical feminist, political economic lens.

• Research collaboration with social workers in Scotland which supported development of toolkit for social workers and professionals working with Polish families experiencing domestic abuse. I subsequently received the ESRC’s ‘Most Impactful Doctoral Research Prize’ (NEDTC) in 2016 for this work.

Career and Teaching

I joined the Department of Sociology at Durham University as an Assistant Professor in 2018. Since joining the department I have been an active member of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA), and I currently convene and teach on the Sociological Approaches to Violence and Abuse, and Policing and Police undergraduate modules. Prior to working at Durham, I worked as a Research Associate at Lancaster University Law School, and as a visiting lecturer at Colorado College.

Research interests

  • Cyberflashing
  • Image-based Sexual Abuse
  • Sexual and Domestic Violence
  • Policing Responses to Domestic Abuse
  • Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)
  • Policing

Research groups

  • Violence and Abuse

Esteem Indicators

  • Awarded the ESRC's (NEDTC) Most Impactful Doctoral Research Prize 2015-2016 :


Authored book

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Hohl, K. & Johnson, K. (Published). A crisis exposed – how Covid-19 is impacting domestic abuse reported to the police. Campaign for Social Science Blog [Policing Inisght & Safe reprinted]
  • Johnson, K. & McGlynn, C. (2020). Why We Need To Criminalise Cyberflashing Now. Social and Legal Studies Blog
  • Rackley, E., McGlynn, C. & K. Johnson (2019). Sexual abuse happens online too — but current laws leave too many victims unprotected. The Conversation
  • McGlynn, C. & Johnson, K. (2018). It’s time the government recognised the harm of upskirting and image-based sexual abuse. The Huffington Post
  • Barlow, C., Johnson, K. & Walklate, S. (2018). Coercive control cases have doubled – but police still miss patterns of this domestic abuse. The Conversation
  • Barlow, C. & Johnson, K. (2018). Missed Opportunities? Researching Police Responses to Coercive Control. Policing Insight

Other (Print)

  • Barlow, C. Johnson, K. & Walklate, S. (2018). Police Responses to Coercive Control: Research Briefing.
  • Westmarland, N., Johnson, K. & McGlynn, C. (2017). Policing domestic abuse - what are ‘out of court resolutions’ and when are they being used?


Supervision students