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Dr Emma Milne

Associate Professor in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Associate Professor in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice in the Durham Law School+44 (0) 191 33 40235


Dr Emma Milne joined Durham Law School in September 2020. Emma obtained her PhD in sociology from the University of Essex, funded by the Consortium of the Humanities and the Arts South-east England (CHASE), who are funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Following this Emma worked as a Lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex University and the University of Plymouth.

Emma is actively involved with a number of learned societies:

Follow Emma on Twitter.

Teaching Areas
  • Criminal law

Emma is a Fellow of the HEA and holds a Postgraduate Certificate of Higher Education (Middlesex University).

Research Areas

Emma is a feminist socio-legal scholar. The focus of her research is the social, legal, and cultural controls and regulation of all women, notably in relation to pregnancy, sex, and motherhood.

Research Projects

Prosecuting, Defending, Sentencing

Emma is currently looking at attitudes and perspectives held by legal professionals (solicitors, barristers, prosecutors, and judges) in relation to criminal law and criminal justice responses to women suspected of killing their infants. This project is funded by the BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants 2020.

Emma’s previous research has assessed the application of the law and what is formerly said about accused women during criminal hearings, but there remains a gap in our knowledge about the perspectives of those who work to apply the law.

Qualitative interviews with legal professionals will directly address this under-researched issue. This research will promote understanding of the societal contexts of professionals’ responses. The research aims to provide a better understandings of the nature of legal responses to infanticidal women. In so doing, Emma will ask why these legal responses occur, so allowing assessment of the suitability of the current criminal law to respond appropriately to the challenges raised by the conduct of these women. The big question the research will consider: Is ‘justice’ being done for vulnerable women?

Find out more about the research.


Women, Pregnancy, and the Criminal Law

Following the publication of her book, Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the Failed Mother, Emma worked with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) to share the findings of the research with the aim of changing legal and social responses to vulnerable women who experience crisis pregnancies. 

Pregnancy and motherhood is often assumed to be a happy time in a woman’s life. However, for some women it can be a time of desperation and crisis. A big question that remains to be answered: what involvement should the criminal justice system have in the lives of these women, and what should the function of the criminal law be?

The research highlights the impact of criminal justice intervention into the lives of women who experience crisis pregnancies. Emma's work draws attention to the ramifications of criminalisation on women’s liberties and rights to bodily autonomy. The regulation of women’s conduct while pregnant has key implications in relation to:

  • The legality of abortion and access to abortion services.
  • The criminalisation of women due to conduct while pregnant.
  • Support offered to vulnerable women, rather than punishment through the criminal justice system.

Find out more about the project.

Research interests

  • Feminist legal studies
  • Social and legal regulation of women's sexuality and bodies
  • Criminal liability of pregnant women
  • Women's reproductive rights/freedom
  • Legal protection of the foetus
  • Infanticide/neonaticide/maternal filicide
  • Feminist criminology
  • Women who offend
  • Violent women
  • Gender and crime


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Supervision students