Photo of Heather Keating

Heather Keating
Professor of Criminal Law & Criminal Responsibility (Law)
T: +44 (0)1273 678796


My main areas of research are the criminal law and family (especially child) law and the role played in each by the concept(s) of responsibility. I am currently working on a monograph, Children, Responsibility and the Criminal Law. In 2006 I presented a paper on the responsibility of children in the criminal law to the second Sussex symposium on responsibility, law and the family which formed the basis for my article in CFLQ 2007. In 2007 I gave a paper to  'Parenting: An Interdisciplinary Workshop' at the  Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities  at the University of Cambridge on the physical punishment of children: the role of the State in protecting children and guiding parents building upon my article in Legal Studies in 2006. In 2010 I presented a paper to the Current Legal Issues, Law and Childhood Studies Colloquium at UCL, on Children, the Criminal Law and Sexual offences which explored the relationship between the age of consent and the age of crminal responsbility. This was published in Current Legal Issues, Law and Childhood Studies, volume 14 (2012, OUP) as 'When the kissing has to stop: children and sexual offences'.

In 2012 I presented a paper to a symposium on wealth and poverty in close personal relationships (in Onati, Spain) which considered whether the emphasis upon individual parental responsbility for child support is consistent with the objective of eradicating child poverty by 2020, returning to an earlier research interest but within the framework of responsibility. This is due to be published in an edited collection as 'The Role of Child Support in Tackling Child Poverty'.

In 2013 I presented a paper, 'Children's Rights and Children's Criminal Responsibility' at a symposium at University College, London to celebrate the work of Michael Freeman. This is due to be published as part of an edited collection in 2014. I drew upon this work in my professorial lecture in December 2013 and in June 2014 I will be presenting a paper, entitled, 'A Tale of Two Bills: responding to children's harmful and anti-social behaviour' to the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law, in Vancouver, Canada.  

I was joint editor (with Craig Lind) of a special issue of the Journal of Law and Society, 'Children, Family Responsibilities and the State' (arising from proceedings at the second Sussex symposium on responsibility) published in 2008 (and as a book by Blackwell).  The proceedings from the first symposium, 'Responsibility, Law and the Family' were published by Ashgate in 2008 (edited by Jo Bridgeman, Heather Keating and Craig Lind). I was also a contributor to this volume, with an essay exploring the concept of responsibility in the context of offending by children.  Two further edited collections, arising from an international and interdisciplinary conference held at Sussex Law School and organised by Jo Bridgeman, Craig Lind and myself, 'Taking Responsibility: Law and the Changing Family' (2011) and 'Regulating  Family Responsibilities' (2011) were also published by Ashgate. The latter volume contained an essay written with Jo Bridgman which explored caring responsibilities, harm and compassionate acts. This essay formed the basis of further work between us on the case for a partial defence of compassionate killing, which was published in the Modern Law Review in 2012. We presented our work at the SLS conference in 2013 and I will be developing it further in a paper to be given at the University of Surrey in March 2014.

I have also organised three one-day workshops around the theme of the responsibility of the state and families towards older people, drawing together academic and practising lawyers, social workers and social scientists. I convened the Criminal Law and Criminal Justice stream of the SLSA conference which was held at Sussex in April 2011. Jo Bridgeman, Craig Lind and myself organised a two day workshop to celebrate twenty-one years of the Children Act 1989 which was held at Sussex in October 2012.

I have supervised MPhil and DPhil dissertations on: Art fraud; Business Crime (a comparison between French and English law); International child abduction; Juvenile offending within the school context (a comparison between England and Korea); the implementation of referral orders into the Youth Criminal Justice system, the implementation of the Children Act 1989 and a  comparative study (of England and Sweden) of joint residence orders under the Children Act 1989 and obstacles to women's rights in Tajikistan: the criminal justice system response to violence against women. I am currently supervising PhDs on  the resurgence of interest in rehabilitation in the criminal justice system and legal and non-legal responses to violence by children in schools. I am particularly interested in supervising research which explores the criminal law's response to offending by children but am happy to consdier research proposals across Family / Child law and Criminal law..

I supervise LLM, GDL and undergraduate dissertations across a range of criminal law /family law subjects.