Professor Jill Peay

Professor Jill Peay

Professor of Law

LSE Law School

Room No
Cheng Kin Ku Building 6.13
Key Expertise
Law relating to offenders with mental disorder

About me

Jill Peay is a Professor of Law, a member of the Mannheim Centre for Criminology and an Honorary 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.

Administrative support:



Policing: Politics, Culture and Controledited 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.

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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.

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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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

External activities

Editorships of journals and publications series

  • Joint General Editor of the Clarendon Studies in Criminology Series for Oxford University Press (2014-6)

  • 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.

  • 2015-2017 Member of Advisory Board for Nuffield funded research on the Court of Protection.

  • 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.

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:

  • 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.

  • 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

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 co-edited (with Tim Newburn) Policing: Politics, Culture and Control, a book of essays in honour of Robert Reiner. The book was published in June 2012 by Hart Publishing, Oxford.

She is 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 has been developing an instrument to assess an accused’s capacity to plead to an indictment and engage with any ensuing trial processes. The work was conducted alongside the Law Commission’s proposals on Unfitness to Plead. See  Aspects of this work are on-going.

She has been working (with Elaine Player – Kings College, London) on a critique of the Sentencing Council’s Reduction in Sentence for a Guilty Plea. This has resulted in an article which is forthcoming in the Modern Law Review (see below).