School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law
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Helen Howard

Helen Howard

About Helen Howard

Helen originally studied law at Durham University. After graduating, she did the necessary year of vocational training at the College of Law in York and went on to qualify as a solicitor.

Helen joined Teesside University in 1995 to teach criminal law. She has completed a Master of Jurisprudence (MJur) involving a 40,000-word thesis on mental condition defences including insanity and diminished responsibility. Her research led to suggestions for a new kind of insanity defence which resulted in a published article in the Journal of Criminal Law plus another about dangerous, severe personality-disordered individuals. These articles have been quoted in the 2013 Law Commission Discussion Paper on Insanity and Automatism.

Helen is module leader of Criminal Law for the LLB (Hons) Law, and the LLM Criminal Law module. She also contributes to modules in Criminal Law Theory and Medical Law.

Research interests and activities

Helen’s research interests include the criminal defences of insanity and diminished responsibility, unfitness to plead, and aspects of criminal law theory.

Recent developments in the law relating to the mental condition defences have resulted in Helen providing feedback to the Law Commission as part of its consultation processes. This has tended to focus on the need for a theoretical underpinning of the defences, and consideration of the criteria for holding an individual criminally responsible.

In 2014, Helen was part of a working group for the Law Commission advising on proposed changes to the law on unfitness to plead.


Selected publications

Howard, H., 'Lack of Capacity: Reforming the Law on Unfitness to Plead' (2016) 80 Journal of Criminal Law 428-435.

Howard, H., ‘Diminished Responsibility, Culpability and Moral Agency’ in Mental Condition Defences and the Criminal Justice System: Perspectives from Law and Medicine, eds. Livings, Reed and Wake (2015, Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

Howard, H., ‘Unfitness to Plead and the Vulnerable Defendant: An Examination of the Law Commission’s Proposals for a New Capacity Test’ (2011) 75 Journal of Criminal Law 194.

Howard, H., ‘Unfitness to Plead and the Trial of Facts: A Critical Review of the Law Commission's Proposals and the Decision in R v MB’ (2012) 76 JCL 421.

View Helen Howard's Publications on TeesRep