Jill Peay

Jill Peay

Email: j.peay@lse.ac.uk
Administrative support: Amanda Tinnams
Room: New Academic Building 6.11
Tel. 020-7955-6391 

Jill Peay is a Professor of Law, a member of the Mannheim Centre for Criminology and an Associate Tenant at Doughty Street Chambers. Her PhD in Psychology was obtained from Birmingham University in 1980, and, having taken the CPE (exemptions) in 1990, she qualified as a Barrister in 1991. She joined the LSE in 1996, having been previously employed at Brunel University and the Oxford University Centre for Criminological Research.

see also Jill Peay's LSE Experts page

Research Interests

Jill Peay’s book on Mental Health and Crime was published in 2010 by Routledge. It appeared in the Glasshouse Press series on Contemporary Issues in Public Policy, edited by David Downes and Paul Rock. She is currently editing (with Tim Newburn) Policing: Politics, Culture and Control, a book of essays in honour of Robert Reiner. The book is intended for publication in June 2012 by Hart Publishing, Oxford.

She is currently involved with a Nuffield Foundation funded project on Unfitness to Plead: ‘Fitness to plead: The impact of cognitive abilities and psychopathology’ with Nigel Blackwood (Kings College London) and Michael Watts (University College London). The project is designed to develop an instrument to assess an accused’s capacity to plead to an indictment and engage with any ensuing trial processes. The work is being conducted alongside the Law Commission’s proposals: Law Commission (2010) Unfitness to Plead Consultation Paper no 197.

External Activities
  • Editorships of journals and publications series

    • Joint General Editor of the Clarendon Studies in Criminology Series for Oxford University Press (2014-)

    • Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice (2014-)

  • Membership Research Councils, advisors to select or other parliamentary committees

    •  In November 2003 Jill Peay chaired, at the request of the Department of Health, a stakeholders meeting to review the issues concerning the proposals for the new Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection. Representative participants from various professional bodies, user and carer groups, academics and members of the existing Mental Health Act Commission attended, together with the Minister, Rosie Winterton.

    •  Memorandum to the Joint Scrutiny Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill 2004. DMH 407. Written evidence available on the JSC web-site.

  • Membership advisory Boards etc to national governments/international governments/ NGOs

    • 2001-2013 Jill Peay was a member of MOD(N)PREC, the Ministry of Defence (Navy) Personnel Research Ethics Committee. This independent Committee reviewed all proposals for research involving human volunteers for the Navy. Members had enhanced security clearance. The Committee’s work was extended in 2006 to embrace all three armed services and became MoD(REC). The Committee reported to the Surgeon General and the Under Secretary of State for Defence.

    •  Jill Peay also reviews research proposals for both the Nuffield Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Board.

  • Research collaborations

    • In 2001 Jill Peay was appointed as a member of the Development Group of LoMHR&D (the London Mental Health Research and Development Virtual Institute), established to facilitate and conduct high quality mental health research and development across London. LoMHR&D disbanded as an entity in 2007.

    • Four national symposia and several specialist seminars have been organised since inception. LoMHR&D became the effective academic arm of the Department of Health funded London Development Centre for Mental Health.

    • She also chaired an interactive session at MDAC’s first international conference on Inspectorates of Mental Health and Social Care Institutions in the European Union held in 2006 in Budapest.

    • Jill Peay’s involvement with MDAC has also led to work in the former EU accession countries, providing training in mental health law and human rights. For example, she was the joint course tutor for two courses in Warsaw (September 2002) and Tallinn (November 2002). This training involved both mental health lawyers and clinical practitioners about the relevance of the ECHR to their domestic practices; visiting institutions and holding discussions with mental health personnel prior to the training played a key element in this process. Furthermore, she has been involved in teaching at the Central European University in Budapest for the Masters’ course on Mental Disability Law and Advocacy. 

    • She was a member of the International Advisory Board for the Guardianship Project, for the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC) in Budapest. MDAC promotes and protects the human rights of people with mental disabilities in the 28 countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Mongolia. The Guardianship Board oversaw  and implemented research in eight countries; the research focussed both on the nature of the legal provisions for guardianship and their application in respect of adults with mental disabilities.  Reports for each of the research countries are available on the MDAC website: http://www.mdac.info/projects/guardian.html

    • Jill Peay was a member of the advisory team for the University of Bristol based ‘Review of reviews of research relevant to forensic mental health’, part of the NHS National Research and Development Programme on Forensic Mental Health.

    • In 2007 Jill Peay was appointed to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party on Dementia: Ethical Issues.  This multi-disciplinary body of experts has been established to examine the ethical, legal, economic and social issues raised by dementia.  The Working Party issued a consultation document in the spring of 2008 and received numerically the greatest response the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has had to one of its consultations.  A Final report was published by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in September 2009.

    • Jill Peay was asked to act as an advisor to the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health’s research into the mental health implications of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) a new sentence for ‘dangerous’ offenders introduced under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.  A final report was published in 2008: ‘In the dark'. The mental health implications of Imprisonment for Public Protection’. 


Policing: Politics, Culture and Control, edited by Tim Newburn and Jill Peay (Hart : 2012)

Bringing together a range of leading social scientists and criminologists, this volume explores a number of key themes raised by the work of Robert Reiner. Arguably the leading policing scholar of his generation, Reiner's work over some 40 years has ranged broadly in this field, taking in the study of police history, culture, organisation, elites and relationships with the media. Always carefully situated within an analysis of the changing socio-political circumstances of policing and crime control, Robert Reiner's scholarship has been path-breaking in its impact.

Mental Health and Crime (Routledge : 2010)

Does mental disorder cause crime? Does crime cause mental disorder? And if either of these could be proved to be true what consequences should stem for those who find themselves deemed mentally disordered offenders? Mental Health and Crime examines the nature of the relationship between mental disorder and crime. It concludes that the broad definition of what is an all too common human condition – mental disorder – and the widespread occurrence of an equally all too common human behaviour – that of offending – would make unlikely any definitive or easy answer to such questions.
    For those who offend in the context of mental disorder, many aspects of the criminal justice process, and of the disposals that follow, are adapted to take account of a relationship between mental disorder and crime. But if the very relationship is questionable, is the way in which we deal with such offenders discriminatory? Or is it perhaps to their benefit to be thought of as less responsible for their offending than fully culpable offenders? The book thus explores not only the nature of the relationship, but also the human rights and legal issues arising. It also looks at some of the permutations in the therapeutic process that can ensue when those with mental health problems are treated in the context of their offending behaviour.

Seminal Issues in Mental Health Law. Aldershot, Ashgate International Library series, an edited collection of approximately 520 pages, (2005)

In the complex and sometimes volatile area of mental health law, this volume provides ready access to key articles from around the world. Each article has been chosen for its definitive focus on critical issues.

The work is divided into three parts. Part I: Principles looks thematically at questions concerning the role of capacity, coercion and compulsion in mental health law, together with an examination of the conflicting potential of the law to be both discriminatory and therapeutic. Part II: Process examines selected seminal empirical studies of process relating to diagnosis, compulsory admission, legal safeguards and treatment in the community. Part III: Trends adopts a broadly chronological lens critically to assess the past, examine persistent current dilemmas and speculate about an uncertain future.

Decisions and Dilemmas: Working with Mental Health Law 2003 Hart Publishing, Oxford. 224 pages

Decisions and Dilemmas - cover

In the field of mental health law, we entrust decisions with consequences of the utmost gravity – decisions about compulsory medical treatment and the loss of liberty – to doctors and approved social workers. Yet, how do these non-lawyers make decisions where the legitimacy of those decisions derives from law? This book examines the practical, ethical and legal terrain of duo-disciplinary decision-making: given identical cases, what dilemmas do psychiatrists and approved social workers encounter, do they reach the same or similar decisions and, most critically, how are those decisions justified? At a time of ferment in mental health law this book, through its narrative format, aids a better understanding of the dilemmas posed.

Law without Enforcement: Integrating Mental Health and Justice (with N. Eastman) 1999 Hart Publishing, Oxford, an edited collection. 238 pages

Law without Enforcement - cover

Law relating to mental disorder and to the mentally disordered has rarely been the subject of such extensive and heated debate. This book explores and reflects upon that debate. To date the focus has been on the tension between public protection and individual civil rights, since much of its impetus has derived from ‘notorious’ homicides in the community and been directed towards calls for a ‘community treatment order’. The debate encapsulated here is more comprehensive, going to the heart of the nature of mental illness and its impacts on legal capacity, juxtaposing constructs which arise out of profoundly differing disciplines. The book concludes that the contribution of current mental health legislation is both marginal and marginalised and it seeks to set an agenda for radical law reform by recognising that asking questions may, at this stage, be more valuable than providing hasty answers. Many of the chapters deal with the recent Bournewood decision in the House of Lords.

Criminal Justice and the Mentally Disordered 1998 Aldershot, Ashgate International Library series, an edited collection. 556 pages

Inquiries after Homicide 1996 Duckworth, London, an edited collection. 182 pages

Selected articles
and chapters in books

'Mental Health, Mental Disabilities and Crime' in A. Liebling, S. Maruna and L. McAra (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology 6th Editon, (2017) [FORTHCOMING]

'An awkward fit: offenders with mental disabilities in a system of criminal justice' in M. Bosworth. C. Hoyle and L.Zedner (eds) (2016) Changing Contours of Criminal Justice: Research, Politics and Policy (Oxford: OUP, 2016)

‘Responsibility, Culpability and the Sentencing of Mentally Disordered Offenders: Objectives in Conflict’ Criminal Law Review (2016) Issue 3  pp.152-164

(with Elaine Player) 'The Ethics of Criminalisation: intentions and consequences'  in Jonathan Jackson and Jonathan Jacobs (eds) Handbook of Criminal Justice Ethics (Routledge) [FORTHCOMING]

'Mental incapacity and criminal liability: Redrawing the fault lines?' International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 40 (2015) pp.25-35

The proper boundaries of criminal liability with respect to those with questionable mental capacity are currently under review. In its deliberations in the areas of unfitness to plead, automatism and the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity the Law Commission for England and Wales have been cognizant of particular difficulties in fairly attributing criminal responsibility to those whose mental capacities may or may not have impinged on their decisions, either at the time of the offence or at trial. And they have referenced the potential breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) posed by the state of our current laws. However, in their efforts to remedy these potential deficiencies is the Law Commission heading in a direction that is fundamentally incompatible with the direction embodied by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD)? Whether one must cede sensibly to the other, or whether some compromise might emerge, perhaps through an extension of supportive services or through the development of disability-neutral criminal law, forms the subject of this paper.

'Sentencing Mentally Disordered Offenders: Conflicting Objectives, Perilous Decisions and Cognitive Insights' LSE Law Society and Economy Working Paper Series, 01-2015

This paper examines the sentencing of mentally disordered offenders using an analysis of s.45A orders under the Mental Health Act 1983. The paper reviews the legislative context of the orders and the relevant tranche of Court of Appeal decisions, and looks at their use since 1998. It then touches on the literature on the role of heuristics and cognitive errors in decision-making as a vehicle for demonstrating why the courts may find sentencing in these cases peculiarly problematic. The paper concludes that partial culpability may be being used as a mechanism for justifying the imposition of these orders which facilitate the application of more risk-averse thresholds of release and recall; but that partial culpability is such a fluid concept as to introduce elements of incoherence into the disposal of mentally disordered offenders.

'Imprisoning the Mentally Disordered: A Manifest Injustice?' LSE Law Society and Economy Working Paper Series, 07-2014

The paper considers the nature and extent of mental disorder, amongst those who have been justly convicted, within prisons in England and Wales. These levels of disorder, and of serious disorder, are broadly consistent with the international literature. The implications of the presence of so many mentally disordered offenders for the established purposes of imprisonment are explored. Issues of accessing appropriate treatment are reviewed. A number of remedies are discussed, including those of interventions which would significantly reduce the prison population per se. The paper concludes that whilst for many mentally disordered offenders imprisonment is the right and proper disposal, for others it is an injustice that they are detained in conditions that may exacerbate their disorders, and for some others their presence in the prison population is a manifest injustice. The paper calls for a fundamental review of the purposes of imprisonment for all offenders, in the light of these observations about mentally disordered offenders.

'Mental disorder and Imprisonment: Understanding an Intractable Problem?' in The Penal Landscape: The Howard League Guide to Criminal Justice in England and Wales' ed. Anita Dockley and Ian Loader (2013)

'Insanity and Automatism: Questions from and about the Law Commission’s Scoping Paper’ Criminal Law Review  (2012) 927-945

'Recession, Crime and Mental Health' Papers from the British Criminology Conference © 2011 the authors and the British Society of Criminology
ISSN 1759-0043; Vol. 11: 3-19 Plenary Paper

This article adopts a holistic approach to the complex interconnections between economic circumstances, crime and mental health. It reviews some of the criminological and economic literature on unemployment, property crime, health inequality and worker well-being. It stresses the explanatory importance both of adopting a chronological approach to people’s experience of economic circumstances relative to others and of pursuing economic remedies on two levels: individually (investment in mental health treatment and protective strategies) and at a societal level (avoidance of strategies that will increase unemployment etc). Four conclusions are drawn: first, criminologists should strive to enhance links within and across disciplines; second, that injecting resources into protective strategies may be significantly more cost effective than merely punishing individual offenders; third, that the economic and personal consequences of these issues are sufficiently serious to make this task urgent; and finally, that current economic circumstances should make such proposals irresistible.

'Mental Disorder and Crime: Some Unresolved Questions' The Scottish Journal of Criminal Justice Studies 2011,Vol 17(July):5-17

'Personality Disorder and the Law: Some Awkward Questions' Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology 2011, Vol 18 (3) 231-244 with an invited commentary by Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, the Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Philosophy Department at Duke University

This article raises five key problems for the law in its dealings with those with severe personality disorder. These problems are set in the context of a legislative agenda that has embraced the conflicting objectives of rehabilitation and incapacitation, while striving to improve treatment for those with severe personality disorder, and minimizing the risk that they are thought to pose to themselves or others. The problems are examined from the perspectives of legislators, realists, clinicians and courts, empiricists and, finally, normativists; in short, what should the law be doing in this arena? The article concludes by urging a cautionary adherence to issues of legal principle in preference to the, albeit starkly portrayed, alternatives: namely, the seductive attractions of therapeutic intervention, or the destructive effects of indeterminate containment. 

'Mentally Disordered Offenders, Mental Health and Crime' in M. Maguire, R. Morgan and R. Reiner (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology 4th Edition, (2007), Oxford University Press. 496-527

Oxford Handbook of Criminology - cover

The most comprehensive and authoritative single volume text on the subject, the fourth edition of the acclaimed Oxford Handbook of Criminology combines masterly reviews of all the key topics with extensive references to aid further research. In addition to the history of the discipline and reviews of different theoretical perspectives, the book provides up-to-date reviews of diverse topics as the criminal justice process, race and gender, crime statistics, and the media and crime. The fourth edition has been substantially revised and updated and is essential reading for all teachers and students of criminology and an indispensable sourcebook for professionals.

‘Insanity and Responsibility: Does M’Naghten do Justice to the Manifestly Mad?’ Journal of the COE on Death and Life Studies (2007). This was a product of the Symposium on Death and Life Studies concerning Psychiatry and Offences: On Homicide organised by the Department of Philosophy in the Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology at the University of Tokyo, 9th December 2006. The publication is in Japanese.

Detain-restrain-control: sliding scale or slippery slope?’ in Crime, Social Control and Human Rights. From moral panics to states of denial. Essays in Honour of Stanley Cohen. (2007) Eds D. Downes, P. Rock, C. Chinkin, and C. Gearty. Willan Publishing, Cullompton, Devon. 226-237

Crime, Social Control and Human Rights - cover

The work of Stanley Cohen over four decades has come to acquire a classical status in the fields of criminology, sociology and human rights. His writing, research, teaching and practical engagement in these fields have been at once rigorously analytical and intellectually inspiring. It amounts to a unique contribution, immensely varied yet with several unifying themes, and it has made, and continues to make, a lasting impact around the world. His work thus has a protean character and scope which transcend time and place.

This book of essays in Stanley Cohen’s honour aims to build on and reflect some of his many-sided contributions. It contains chapters by some of the world’s leading thinkers as well as the rising generation of scholars and practitioners whose approach has been shaped in significant respects by his own.

‘Decision-making in mental health law: Can past experience predict future practice?’ Journal of Mental Health Law. 2005, 41-56

‘Law and Stigma – Present, Future and Futuristic Solutions’ in Every Family in the Land: Understanding prejudice and discrimination against people with mental illness (ed) Professor A.H. Crisp. Royal Society of Medicine, Revised Edition 2004, in book form, 367-372

Every Family in the Law - cover

This is a revised edition of a valuable collection of over 80 learned articles, personal perspectives, and commentaries designed to shed light on the most common mental disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, alcohol or drug misuse, eating disorders, anxiety and depressive disorders in the hope of dispelling some of the stigma which attaches to them.

'Working with Concepts of "Dangerousness" in the Context of Mental Health Law' 2003 Criminal Justice Matters. 18-19

'Mentally Disordered Offenders, Mental Health and Crime' in M. Maguire, R. Morgan and R. Reiner (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology 3rd Edition, 2002, Oxford University Press. 746-791

'Mental health professionals' attitudes towards legal compulsion: Report of a national survey'  (with Roberts and Eastman) International Journal of Forensic Mental Health 2002, Vol 1, No 1, 69-80

‘Legal knowledge of mental health professionals: Report of a national survey’  (with Roberts and Eastman) Journal of Mental Health Law June 2001, 44-55

This article presents findings from a national postal survey of knowledge of mental health law amongst psychiatrists, GPs, approved social workers and Mental Health Act Commissioners, conducted in England and Wales. The Study was designed to assess (amongst other matters) the relative levels of legal knowledge between and within these professional groups. Data from 2022 respondents revealed considerable discrepancies in knowledge scores. Commissioners, approved psychiatrists and approved social workers achieved the highest scores, and non-approved GPs the lowest scores. Within-group difference for doctors were correlated with levels of day-to-day experience in using the Mental Health Act and, for approved social workers, with training. The article concludes that the advisability of maintaining the statutory role of GPs in its current form is questionable, given the preponderance of poorly performing GPs. Both use of the Act and training were important in sustaining practitioners' legal knowledge.