Emerging research shows there are links between childhood brain injury and future offending.

POST/ESRC seminar on neuroscience children and the law

In June 2012 a seminar was held at the UK Houses of Parliament, jointly hosted by the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Neuroscience offers insights into how brain development and function can affect behaviour. Leading forensic psychiatrists, psychologists and legal experts have highlighted how policymaking – from setting the age of criminal responsibility to protecting vulnerable children in the justice system – could take account of the latest research.

Factors that influence brain development in childhood may affect:

  • The likelihood of a child committing an offence.
  • Their ability to understand criminal proceedings and inform which interventions could decrease their risk of re-offending.

Emerging research shows there are links between childhood brain injury and future offending.

But how can these discoveries inform the law and legal proceedings? And what are the repercussions for determining whether a child is legally responsible for an offence? The presentations and audio below attempt to answer these questions.


Prof Nigel Eastman, Professor of Law and Ethics in Psychiatry, Honorary Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, St George’s University of London.

Dr Eileen Vizard, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Institute of Child Health, University College London.

Laura Hoyano, Hackney Fellow and Tutor in Law, Wadham College, University of Oxford.

Dr Eamon McCrory, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, University College London.

Dr Seena Fazel, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, University of Oxford.

Prof Huw Williams, Associate Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology, University of Exeter.

Dr Karen McAuliffe, Lecturer in Law, University of Exeter.

Dr Atina Krajewska, Lecturer in Law, Cardiff University.