Criminalising neonaticide: reflections on law and practice in England and Wales

Brennan, Karen and Milne, Emma (2018) Criminalising neonaticide: reflections on law and practice in England and Wales. In: Women and the Criminal Justice System: failing victims and offenders? Brennan, Karen, Milne, Emma, South, Nigel and Turton, Jackie, eds. Palgrave, pp. 95-117. ISBN 9783319767734, e-ISBN 9783319767741, pbk-ISBN 9783030095802. (doi:10.1007/978-3-319-76774-1_5)

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Abstract

This chapter considers the unusual case where a woman is suspected of killing her newborn baby following a secret pregnancy and birth. The research on what we know about the circumstances and incidence of what has been termed ‘neonaticide’ is explored. The complexities of these cases in terms of their circumstances and the vulnerability of women who conceal their pregnancies are highlighted. Following this, the difficulties, from a legal perspective, that arise when seeking to prosecute women for homicide when their babies die following an unassisted concealed birth are considered. What we know about current criminal justice practice in these cases is also explored. Unfortunately, there is limited research on current criminal justice practice in these cases, and little is therefore known about the approach taken by the police, prosecutors and the courts in cases involving suspected homicides of newborns. The need for further research on the criminal justice response is highlighted, and the appropriateness of criminalising women and girls in these cases, particularly given their unique circumstances of vulnerability, is questioned.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
Item ID: 23548
Notes on copyright: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of a chapter published in Women and the Criminal Justice System: failing victims and offenders?. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-76774-1_5
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Depositing User: Emma Milne
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 15:20
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2020 10:53
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/23548

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