Emma Milne (Durham University, UK)

Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the failed mother

ISBN: 978-1-83909-621-1, eISBN: 978-1-83909-620-4

Publication date: 27 August 2021


Milne, E. (2021), "Prelims", Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the failed mother, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-xiv.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021 Emma Milne

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Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide

Title Page

Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the failed mother



Durham University, UK

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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First edition 2021

Copyright © 2021 Emma Milne. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited

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ISBN: 978-1-83909-621-1 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-83909-620-4 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-83909-622-8 (Epub)

Dedication Page

To women everywhere, whether pregnant or not, mothers or not. Keep fighting, and surviving, and living.


List of Tables ix
About the Authors xi
Acknowledgements xiii
Chapter 1: The ‘Problem’ of Maternal Filicide of Newborn Children 1
Chapter 2: Mothers in the Courtroom I: Suspicious Perinatal Deaths in Context 27
Chapter 3: Mothers in the Courtroom II: The Failure of the ‘Mother’ 51
Chapter 4: Mothers in the Courtroom III: Criminalising the Irresponsible Mother 73
Chapter 5: Mothers in Law I: Criminalising the ‘Illegitimate’ Mother 101
Chapter 6: Mothers in Law II: Foetus First 127
Chapter 7: Redressing Gendered Harm: The Role of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 145
References 161
Index 183

List of Tables

Table 1.1 Offences Initially Recorded as Homicide by Outcome, for Victims Who Were Born on the Same Date the Homicide Occurred 10
Table 1.2 Police-recorded Statistics for the Offence of Concealment of Birth 11
Table 1.3 Police-recorded Offences of Concealment of Birth and Homicide Index Data of the Number of Offences Initially Recorded as Homicide for Victims Who Were Born on the Same Date the Homicide Occurred 13
Table 2.1 Reported Awareness of Pregnancy 32
Table 2.2 Context of Pregnancies 37
Table 5.1 Live Births by Age of Mother and Registration Type 125

About the Authors

Dr Emma Milne is Assistant Professor in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice at Durham University. Her PhD in Sociology from the University of Essex was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Her research is interdisciplinary, focussing on criminal law and criminal justice responses to newborn child killing and foetal harm. The wider context of her work is social controls and regulations of all women, notably in relation to pregnancy, sex, and motherhood. She co-authored Sex and Crime (SAGE, 2020) and co-edited Women and the Criminal Justice System: Failing Victims and Offenders? (Palgrave, 2018).


This book is the product of research conducted for my doctoral studies and during the following three years. It has been a labour of love, as well as being simply laborious a good deal of the time. There are numerous people/organisations to whom I owe my thanks for their support to enable me to complete the research and produce this book: these are but a few, and I hope the rest know who they are.

The PhD research would not have been possible without the support and guidance of my supervisors, Professors Jackie Turton and Pete Fussy. Particular thanks to Jackie for over a decade of encouragement, support (emotional and academic), and friendship, and for persuading me to ‘go for it’ and start the PhD in the first place. Dr Marisa Silvestri (truly the greatest external examiner anyone could ask for!): her continued support since completion of the PhD has been invaluable, and I am so grateful. Further thanks to Jackie and Marisa for their incredibly helpful comments on the book proposal.

Thanks to Dr Karen Brennan, for her friendship, instigated when we both discovered we have a thing for (the study of) infanticide. Bouncing ideas off each other, discussing how the law works, and how the law should work, and continuing to share and develop ideas with her is nothing but a joy! Karen, your friendship and all the fun only make it sweeter.

Sadly, more often than not, academic research is only possible with a wad of cash – this book is no exception. So, thanks to the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE), Grant No. AH/L503861/1, and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) International Placement Scheme for funding the PhD and research fellowship at the Library of Congress, USA. It was only possibly to obtain additional court transcripts for the post-PhD research due to funding provided by the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Research Grants Scheme, so my thanks to the SLSA for both the money and the ongoing academic engagement facilitated by the society.

A number of people have assisted this research and this book through their professional activity. I would like to offer my thanks to all the court clerks in England and Wales who helped me with access to court transcripts – especially the two clerks who trolled through court listings and schedules in order to identify two anonymised cases. Particular thanks to Michelle Sisson, my proofreader: dyslexia can make a tough job so much harder, but Michelle helps to ameliorate this with her compassionate and helpful corrections of my (sometimes incomprehensible) English. Thanks, too, to Durham Law School for agreeing to pay for Michelle’s services without fuss or query – it’s lovely to see this sort of disability support so readily and willingly given. I also owe a great deal to my counsellor, Caroline Hodgeson, who helped me through the difficulties of 2020. Professional support for mental health and well-being is essential at the best of times, but particularly in the context of the events of 2020 (on a global and personal level). I’m aware that to be able to afford such support is, regrettably, a privilege of the few. Nevertheless, I am deeply grateful to Caroline for her compassion, support, and care over the last 12 months. Caroline, I’m not sure I could have made it if you hadn’t been there.

Particular thanks go to those who read sections of this book or this book in its entirety and commented upon my ideas; their feedback on my work and assistance in developing these thoughts was invaluable: Dr Lynsey Black, Dr Alexandra Fanghanel, Professor Clare McGlynn, Dr Elizabeth Chloe Romanis, and the anonymous reviewer. Others assisted me in unpacking and/or considering key ideas; I have noted and thanked these people in the text to denote their contribution to that thought/idea.

To my cheerleaders (you know who you are), thanks for your encouragement from the sidelines. Thanks also to the friends who provided day-to-day support throughout the analysis and writing stages – through the painful labour and delivery of this book: specifically, but not exclusively, Dr Alexia Caesel, Dr Emma Watkins, and Dr Janet Weston.

Finally, my thanks to Dr Orlando Goodall, who kept me sane during 2019/2020 with his regular text communication which ranged from being beautifully banal to powerfully political, radically resistant, and, always, hilariously funny! Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum, comrade!