Dr Rachel Keighley

Research Associate

School/Department: Criminology, School of



Dr Rachel Keighley (she/her) is the vice-chair of the British Society of Criminology Hate Crime Network and Research Associate in Criminology at the University of Leicester.

Rachel recently earned her PhD specialising in online hate targeting LGBTQ+ young people. Her work focuses on the harms of every day hate, our understanding of identity and difference, and how we can best respond to online hate through policy, practice and activism.

Rachel has experience in civic engagement and policy impact, having worked as a Policy Impact Officer for the Civic University Agreement between De Montfort University, Loughborough University, and the University of Leicester.

Rachel is also the host and producer of the podcast, Over the Rainbow, a space for queer education, representation and activism.

Alongside the National Crime Agency, the National Police Chiefs Council and NGO Unseen, Rachel is currently working on a research project assessing what role adult service websites can play in addressing modern slavery and sexual exploitation in the UK.

Rachel promotes her work on Twitter (@rachel_keighley) and Instagram (@_overtherainbowpodcast). More information can be found via her LinkedIn profile.


  • LGBTQ+ online hate
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Online Harms
  • Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
  • Sexual Exploitation online
  • Interpretation and evaluation of the UK Online Safety Bill
  • Participatory Action Research

Rachel's research specialises in understanding identity targeted hate online, the impacts, and how we respond to the commission of hate through policy and social justice. Her PhD thesis explored the experiences of LGBTQ+ young people aged 13-25 online and the ways in which they are exposed to hate targeting their sexuality. Her research demonstrates the importance of a cohesive criminal justice and societal response to online hate, underpinned by a broader educational effort on sexuality, gender and difference.

Currently, Rachel is a research associate on a project looking at the role of adult service websites in addressing modern slavery and sexual exploitation online. She works closely with Unseen (the UK NGO which runs the modern slavery helpline), the National Crime Agency and National Police Chiefs Council to better understand what role adult service websites can play in preventing human trafficking and sexual exploitation in the UK, and their role in wider policies and laws on this issue.



Keighley, R., 2022. Hate Hurts: Exploring the Impact of Online Hate on LGBTQ+ Young People. Women & Criminal Justice32(1-2), pp.29-48


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