The Workings of Section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act

January 1, 2003


The aim of this project is to examine the impact of s.41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (YJCEA) 1999 on the prosecution of sex offence cases. Whilst it is intended to explore the question of whether s.41 has affected attrition rates, the main focus of this study is the extent to which s.41 is fulfilling the intentions of parliament in limiting the circumstances in which sexual history evidence can be used in rape trials. The wide array of research questions that this study will address necessitates a linked multi-methodological strategy combining quantitative and qualitative methods and legal interpretation. It involves the following:

  • Prospective Case Tracking: tracking of rape cases and any s.41 applications made therein over a three-month period in all Crown Courts in England and Wales.
  • CPS Case File Analysis: examination of 200 CPS files for references to s.41 applications, decisions, circumstances etc. in the four study regions (London, Greater Manchester, Newcastle and Sussex).
  • Analysis of Home Office Data: secondary analysis of all Home Office criminal statistics rape data for the years 1998-2002 in England and Wales.
  • Trial Observations: observations of rape trials in the four study regions in order to assess how s.41, and sexual history evidence in general, is ‘played out’ in court.
  • Interviews with Judges and Barristers in the four study regions.
  • Interviews with Survivors in the four study regions on their experiences of the criminal justice/legal process.
  • Interviews with Relevant Agencies/Practitioners/Key Informants: including Police officers and staff from the Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) in the four study regions, and national representatives of Victim Support, the Rape Crisis Federation (RCF) and the Campaign to End Rape (CER).
  • Questionnaires to Service Providers: questionnaires to Victim Support Services and Rape Crisis Centres nationwide.
  • An Analysis of the Legal Context and Leading Cases.

See Research Report:Section 41: an evaluation of
new legislation limiting sexual history evidence in rape trials (Online only)

Grant Holder: CWASU, working in conjunction with Professor Jennifer Temkin of the University of Sussex

Sponsor: The Home Office

  • Project Team:
    Jennifer Temkin, Liz Kelly, Sue Griffiths