Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Research activity in these areas is led by Professor Ronnie Mackay, Professor Gavin Dingwall and Ms Vanessa Bettinson (Reader in law).  The research activity within criminal law and criminal justice encompasses both doctrinal and socio-legal approaches and constitute significant research strengths within the School.

Professor Ronnie Mackay has a long and distinguished record of research in criminal law and mental health law, with particular emphasis on mental condition defences and mentally abnormal offenders. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology and Personality and Mental Health - Multidisciplinary Studies from Personality Dysfunction and Criminal Behaviour.  He has a significant record of publications in the leading academic journals in his fields and has acted as an academic consultant to the Law Commission in relation to their work on: Partial Defences to Murder; and Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide. He has recently been engaged in an empirical study for the Law Commission into both unfitness to plead and the defence of insanity as part of the Commission's 10th Reform Programme. This empirical work is the culmination of a longstanding research project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, which has also included consideration of both 'diminished responsibility' and the plea of 'provocation'.  He received funding from the British Epilepsy Association to conduct an empirical study into cases of epileptic automatism which resulted in two publications (with Dr M Reuber).  Professor Mackay is regularly invited to give papers at national and international conferences and consulted by a range of stakeholders, for example, he was invited by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law to comment on their practice guidelines for competence to stand trial. His publications include a piece on the plea of provocation (with Barry Mitchell and Warren Brookbanks),a paper on the McNaughton rules (defence of insanity) and an empirical study of involuntary manslaughter cases(with Barry Mitchell). Professor Mackay is part of the editorial team which recently produced a major work entitled Principles of Mental Health Law  and Policy (Oxford University Press). He visited Auckland University Law School in New Zealand where he taught an intensive Masters course and delivered a staff seminar. 

Professor Gavin Dingwall’s research in criminal justice has been inter-disciplinary in focus and draws primarily on criminology, penology and criminal law jurisprudence. Gavin is the author of Blamestorming, Blamemongers and Scapegoats: Allocating blame in the criminal justice process (Bristol: Policy Press) (with Tim Hillier, 2015), Alcohol and Crime (Willan Publishing, 2006) and Diversion in the Criminal Process (with Christopher Harding, Sweet & Maxwell, 1998). See his full publication list. His work has also been published in a number of leading peer-reviewed journals in law and criminology. Gavin has held a Visiting Scholarship at Flinders University of South Australia (2004). He has reviewed grant applications for the British Academy, the ESRC and the AHRB as well as for a number of academic journals and book publishers.

Ms Vanessa Bettinson is co- founder of DMU’s Sexual Violence and Domestic Violence Research Network. Her research centres on legal responses to domestic violence in the field of criminal law and justice and she is co-editor of ‘Interdisciplinary perspectives on domestic violence: Protection, prevention and intervention’ Palgrave (with Ms Sarah Hilder, 2016). She has published work on the criminal law’s ability to capture coercive and controlling behaviour in family relationships and is exploring comparative approaches to this.  In addition to her domestic violence focused research she has examined the human rights concerns surrounding the controversial imprisonment for public protection sentences. Vanessa has several publications in internationally esteemed journals. To see Vanessa’s full publication list.

Other staff in this area include: Omar Madhloom and Ivan Stafford.

Events target area image

At DMU there is always something to do or see, check out our events for yourself.

DMU research news target area image
DMU research news

Read about our latest research efforts.

Mission and vision target area image
Mission and vision

Read about our mission and vision and how these create a supportive and exciting learning environment.