Professor Ronnie Mackay
R.D. Mackay has been Professor of Criminal Policy and Mental Health at De Montfort University since 1993.
His research in this area stems from his monograph entitled Mental Condition Defences in the Criminal Law, published in 1995 by Oxford University Press. Since then, Mackay has shown through empirical and additional legal analysis how the existing law operates in reality.
His research into the defence of insanity and the doctrine of unfitness to plead from 1993 onwards, has investigated how both operate in practice together with the impact of statutory reform measures. By conducting a series of empirical studies into both, Mackay has explored how the legal tests are applied by psychiatrists, together with the impact of case disposals.
Mackay has a long-standing relationship as a consultant to the Law Commission on mental condition defences. His empirical studies in this field have been used by, and have influenced law reform bodies, legislators, policy development, and legal analysis.
The Law Commission’s work on Partial Defences to Murder (2003-2006), which extensively referred to Mackay’s work, has led to reform proposals for both diminished responsibility and provocation, together with a recommendation that the substance of the infanticide defence/offence be left unaltered.
These reform proposals were then considered by the Ministry of Justice, which engaged in its own consultation exercise. As a direct result of his empirical work for the Law Commission, Mackay was invited by the Ministry of Justice in 2008 to participate in three policy meetings to discuss the revised reform proposals for provocation, diminished responsibility, and infanticide (a). This in turn resulted in a post-consultation report to the consultation paper to which Mackay also contributed (b).
In 2009, Parliament passed the Coroners and Justice Act, which enacts reformed pleas of diminished responsibility and ‘loss of control’, but leaves the substance of infanticide intact. Mackay’s work was sought by both the Law Commission and the Ministry of Justice throughout this reform process.
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