Professor Vanessa Bettinson

Job: Professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Leicester De Montfort Law School

Address: The Gateway, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: + 44 (0)116 207 8195

E: vbettinson@dmu.ac.uk

W: http://www.svdv.org.uk/

 

Personal profile

Vanessa has worked at DMU since 2004, teaching both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.  She teaches criminal law, human rights law and immigration and refugee law to undergraduates. She has developed a module focusing on employability, commercial awareness and entrepreneurial skills for law students and also delivers teaching on a number of modules on the distance learning LLM. In addition to these responsibilities Vanessa is the pathway leader of DMU distance learning LLM in International Human Rights Law.

Vanessa’s research currently focuses on criminal justice and human rights responses to domestic violence and/or abuse. In particular, she is currently interested in comparative legal responses to coercive control. She has organised conferences in this area with her colleague Sarah Hilder (DMU, Community and Criminal Justice) attended by local, national and international delegates. Both Sarah and Vanessa have a forthcoming edited book collection for 2016 called ‘Domestic Violence: Interdisciplinary perspectives on protection, prevention and intervention’ (Palgrave). 

Research group affiliations

DMU Sexual Violence and Domestic Violence Research Network

Publications and outputs 

  • A Comparative Evaluation of Offences: Criminalising Abusive Behaviour in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Tasmania
    A Comparative Evaluation of Offences: Criminalising Abusive Behaviour in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Tasmania Bettinson, Vanessa This chapter analyses the new offences introduced in England and Wales in 2015, Scotland in 2018, Ireland in 2018 and the less recent offences in Tasmania in 2004 addressing the use of coercive control in domestic relationships. Each legislature has chosen different approaches to a shared problem and, as other jurisdictions are considering whether or how to criminalise non-physical abuse at this time, it is timely to consider which model has the greatest potential to achieve the stated objectives of these offences. I argue that the Scottish model is most promising and that rollout to other nations should be a serious consideration. This is based on Scotland having developed an offence that aligns as far as could be expected with its existing policy approaches to domestic abuse. The legislation has a focus on current or ex-partners, no requirement to show that the victim actually suffered harm, an ability to reflect the wide range of behaviours and impact that abusive behaviour can cause, and a sentencing range that adequately reflects the broad range of offending covered by these offences. In comparison, other models have shortcomings, such as greater evidential barriers for prosecution, limitation periods, or a failure to take into account the different levels of severity of consequences caused by the prohibited behaviour.
  • De-Criminalising Adolescent to Parent Violence Under s 76 Serious Crime Act 2015
    De-Criminalising Adolescent to Parent Violence Under s 76 Serious Crime Act 2015 Bettinson, Vanessa; Quinlan, Christina This article questions the appropriateness of including adolescent to parent violence (APV) within the elements of a criminal offence designed to criminalise domestic violence and abuse (DVA). The offence, s. 76 Serious Crime Act 2015 prohibits controlling and coercive behaviours towards a person personally connected to the defendant. This spans on-going intimate relationships and a wide range of family relationships. The authors conducted a small-scale research study that looked at practitioner’s understandings of APV, and found that many cases of APV could satisfy the s. 76 offence. The article examines the correlation between the concepts of coercive control and APV, noting that there are significant differences that justify treating adolescent-perpetrators of APV differently to adult-perpetrators of intimate partner coercive control in the criminal law. These factors concern the unique vulnerabilities of both the parent-victim and the adolescent-perpetrator in APV and human rights law requires the equal protection of both parties on the basis of their vulnerability. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.
  • Aligning partial defences to murder with the offence of coercive or controlling behaviour
    Aligning partial defences to murder with the offence of coercive or controlling behaviour Bettinson, Vanessa This article reflects on the adoption of s. 76 Serious Crime Act 2015 which criminalises coercive or controlling behaviour in an intimate or family relationship. The examination draws upon the legislative effort to recognise both the variety of tactics and behaviours used by a perpetrator and the psychological harm that the survivor experiences. It explores the power dynamics in relationships characterised by coercive control and questions whether the law itself does enough to address the imbalance of power between the perpetrator and the survivor. In line with the theme of this special edition the article also draws out aspects where vulnerability can be increased for some adult victims when coercive and controlling behaviour intersects with other characteristics. Moving from the offence, the article then considers an argument for aligning partial defences to murder with it. It takes inspiration from the case of Sally Challen, granted leave to appeal her murder conviction at the Court of Appeal on 1st March 2018. Leave was granted after her lawyers successfully persuaded the court that the introduction of s. 76 Serious Crime Act 2015 amounted to fresh evidence in her defence that was unavailable at the time of her trial in 2011. Lady Justice Rafferty stated that, “It should be plainly understood that the application made today is but one step in what, it is hoped by counsel, those who instruct her and many others concerned in this case, will be a full detailed exploration of the position, based on scholarship, learning and clinical expertise, which should prevail now… A jury, it is argued, should, with the benefit of that learning, be enabled to reach a clear settled conclusion on the basis of an understanding which, it is said, was not available to the jury in 2011.” The arguments at her appeal will seek to reduce her murder conviction to manslaughter, providing an opportunity for this article to explore the complexities of aligning the partial defences to murder with the offence of coercive or controlling behaviour. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link
  • Civic Values 1 The Student Experience of Lad Culture, Sexual Violence and Sexual Harrasment on University Campus
    Civic Values 1 The Student Experience of Lad Culture, Sexual Violence and Sexual Harrasment on University Campus Turgoose, Di; Bettinson, Vanessa Research findings presentation to Healthy DMYou & Mandala
  • On & Off Line Coercive Control: The Socio-Legal Perspective
    On & Off Line Coercive Control: The Socio-Legal Perspective Turgoose, Di; Bettinson, Vanessa Training Delivered to First Responders across De Montfort University as part of the SVDV & Mandala Project collaboration
  • Evidencing domestic violence, including behaviour that falls under the new offence of 'controlling or coercive behaviour'
    Evidencing domestic violence, including behaviour that falls under the new offence of 'controlling or coercive behaviour' Bettinson, Vanessa; Bishop, Charlotte IN 2015 an offence of 'controlling or coercive behaviour' was introduced under the Serious Crime Act, criminalising for the first time the non-physical abuse which so often occurs in the domestic context. This new offence implicitly recognises the psychological and emotional harm which can result from an ongoing pattern of behaviour, and the need to consider the controlling or coercive nature of this behaviour in the context of the power dynamics of the relationship in question. Unique evidential difficulties are raised by this offence, in part because of the ways in which gendered expectations can disguise the controlling and coercive nature of certain behaviours. At the same time, to increase the number of prosecutions for domestic violence offences, including under the new offence, acknowledgment of the ongoing trauma often experienced by victims, and the ways in which this may hinder their ability to safely and effectively participate in the criminal justice process, is required. We will outline recommendations to enable this participation, whilst also asserting the need for creative prosecution methods which allow these type of cases to be prosecuted without being solely reliant upon the victim's oral testimony in court.
  • Criminalising coercive control in domestic violence cases: Should Scotland follow the path of England and Wales?
    Criminalising coercive control in domestic violence cases: Should Scotland follow the path of England and Wales? Bettinson, Vanessa This article provides an analysis of s. 76 Serious Crime Act 2015 that entered into force on 29th December 2015 in England and Wales and creates the offence of coercive or controlling behaviour in an intimate or family relationship. In particular it is argued that whilst steps have been taken to develop substantive law where there was an evident gap in respect of the behaviour and harm involved in many instances of domestic violence, the new offence is likely to prove challenging to apply. The article considers the Scottish legal system’s substantive criminal law concerning domestic abuse and the draft offence of domestic abuse in Scottish Government Consultation Paper, A Criminal offence of domestic abuse (2015).
  • Surviving Times of Austerity: Preserving the Specialist Domestic Violence Court Provision
    Surviving Times of Austerity: Preserving the Specialist Domestic Violence Court Provision Bettinson, Vanessa
  • Introduction.
    Introduction. Hilder, Sarah; Bettinson, Vanessa
  • Domestic violence : interdisciplinary perspectives on protection, prevention and intervention.
    Domestic violence : interdisciplinary perspectives on protection, prevention and intervention. Hilder, Sarah; Bettinson, Vanessa


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to see a full listing of Vanessa Bettinson's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

V. Bettinson, ‘Loss and Denial of Refugee Status’ in An introduction to International Refugee Law. Edited by Rafiqul Islam and Jahid Hossain Bhuiyan, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (2013)

V. Bettinson and G. Dingwall, ‘Challenging the Ongoing Injustice of Imprisonment for Public Protection: James, Wells and Lee v United KingdomModern Law Review (2013) 76(5) 925-936

V. Bettinson, ‘Restraining Orders Following an Acquittal in Domestic Violence Cases: Securing Greater Victim Safety?’ Journal of Criminal Law (2012) 76(6) 512-527

V. Bettinson and G. Dingwall, ‘Applying Generic Sentencing Aims in Domestic Violence Cases in England and Wales’ International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice (2012) 40 242-25

Research interests/expertise

  • Domestic violence and the law
  • Human rights
  • Criminal justice
  • Sentencing

Areas of teaching

  • Criminal Law
  • Human Rights
  • Immigration and Refugee law
  • Sports participant and the courts
  • Domestic abuse

Qualifications

LLB (Brunel); LLM (Leicester); PGCert in Higher Education (DMU)

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Socio-legal Studies association, member
  • Society of Legal Scholars, member
  • Social Policy Association, member

Conference attendance

Conference Organisation

  • Conference organiser, Safeguarding and Promoting Wellbeing: Addressing Sexual Violence and Domestic Violence Conference (with Leicestershire Safeguarding Adults Board, Leciestershire Safeguarding Children Board and Leicester City Council), November 2014.
  • Seminar organiser, LGBT Community and Domestic Violence: Challenges to prevention, protection and intervention (with S.Hilder) Leicester De Montfort Law School, September 2014.
  • Interdisciplinary Domestic Violence: Working Together, the Challenges for Legal and Community Professionals (with Sarah Hilder, DMU), Leicester De Montfort Law School, December 2013.

  •  

    Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Stream Co-Convenor (with Ben Livings, University of Sunderland), Socio-Legal Studies Conference, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, 2014.
  • Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Stream Co-Convenor (with Ben Livings, University of Sunderland), Socio-Legal Studies Conference, York University, March 2013.

  •  

    Stream Organiser and Criminal Justice Stream Convenor, Socio-Legal Studies Conference, Leicester De Montfort University Law School April 2012. 
  • Stream Organiser and Themes Convenor, Socio-Legal Studies Conference, Leicester De Montfort University Law School April 2009.

 

Conference papers

  • V. Bettinson, “Sentencing domestic violence offences and the victims’ wishes: The position on the European front” at the Annual SLSA Conference at University of York March 26th 2013.

  • V. Bettinson and G. Dingwall, “Challenging the ongoing injustice of imprisonment for public protection” at the Annual SLSA Conference at University of York March 26th 2013.

  • Staff seminar in the Community and Criminal Justice Lunchtime Seminar series, V. Bettinson and G. Dingwall, “The Theoretical Application of Generic Sentencing Aims in Domestic Violence Cases” February 6th 2013.

  • V. Bettinson, “Preventing continued victimisation: Making the case for further specialisation in courts for domestic violence victims” at the Symposium – ‘Legal Perspectives on the Victim’ at Nottingham Trent University December 19th 2012.

  • V. Bettinson and G. Dingwall, “Do Generic Sentencing Aims Result in Optimised Outcomes in Domestic Violence Cases?” at the Annual SLSA Conference at Leicester De Montfort University Law School April 5th 2012.

  • V. Bettinson, “Restraining Orders following an acquittal: Better Prosecutorial After Care in Domestic Violence Caes?” at the Annual SLSA Conference at Leicester De Montfort University Law School April 5th 2012.

  • V. Bettinson, ‘The future of claims to resist removal by HIV+ Sufferers: The mother and child claim’ at the Annual SLSA Conference at the University of Kent, April 4th 2007.

  • Staff Seminar, ‘The Case of N v secretary of the State for the Home Department [2005] 2 WLR 1124 and the future of Article 3 ECHR claims in the migration and HIV/AIDS context’ at Leicester De Montfort University Law School November 8th 2006.

  • Paper entitled “Resisting removal due to a lack of effective medical treatment for HIV/AIDS” at the Annual SLS Conference in Keele September 4th 2006.

  • Paper on N v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2005] 2 WLR 1124 at LSE Interdisciplinary Conference: Crossing the Boundaries March 24th 2006.

Professional esteem indicators

  • Palgrave
  • Case Note Editor (Assistant) for the Journal of Criminal Law 2011- 2012
  • Guest Editor for the Liverpool Law Review, a special edition on ‘Historical and Contemporary Legal issues relating to HIV/AIDS,’ Vol. 28 (2) 2007
  • Reviewer for Legal Studies
  • Reviewer for Oxford University Press
  • Reviewer for Routledge
  • Guest Speaker for BBC radio Leicester.

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