My research lies in the fields of criminal law, criminal justice and family law. I am particularly interested in police and prosecution decision-making, criminal courts (including magistrates and jury trials) and victims’ rights. My main expertise is legal responses to domestic abuse in the criminal and family justice systems. I have carried out numerous empirical studies and produced several research reports for UK government departments suggesting how the legal system can improve the way it responds to domestic abuse.
My book ‘Legal Responses to Domestic Violence’ took a comprehensive look at how the legal system handles domestic abuse in the family, civil and criminal justice spheres. It is my view that there are flaws in the responses in each of those spheres, but one of the biggest obstacles to protecting victims, both adults and children, is silo working; each sphere operates in isolation from the others, with different approaches and differing values. This was one of the themes the ‘Harm Panel Report’, which I co-authored, highlighting the problems with the process and outcomes in child arrangement cases involving allegations of domestic abuse. The report was published by the Ministry of Justice in 2020 alongside the Government’s implementation plan for improving the response of the family courts to domestic abuse. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 incorporated some changes to the law based on the panel’s recommendations, including ‘special measures’ to protect vulnerable victims in court.
I am currently working on a new book on domestic abuse and victims’ rights, examining how legal developments are driven by a better understanding that ineffective responses to domestic abuse are a violation of the human rights of victims.
Burton, M (2018) ‘Specialist Domestic Violence Courts for Child Arrangement Cases: Safer Courtrooms and Safer Outcomes?’ Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, Vol. 40 (4), published online 26 September 2018.
Burton, M (2017) ‘Doing empirical research in Law’ in Watkins, D and Burton, M (eds) Research Methods in Law, Routledge.
Burton, M (2016) ‘Fresh Approaches to Policing Domestic Violence’ in Hilder, S and Bettinson, V (eds) Domestic Violence: Interdisciplinary perspectives on protection, prevention and intervention, Palgrave Macmillan DOI
Burton, M (2015) ‘Emergency barring orders in domestic violence cases: What can England and Wales learn from other European countries?’ Child and Family Law Quarterly, 25.
Burton, M (2013) ‘How different are ‘false’ allegations of rape from false allegations of GBH?’ Criminal Law Review, 203-213.
Burton, M, Mcleod, R, de Guzman, V, Evans, R, Lambert, H and Cass, G (2012) Understanding the progression of serious cases through the criminal justice system, Ministry of Justice Research Series 11/12, Ministry of Justice: London.
I currently teach criminal law and criminal justice at undergraduate level. At postgraduate level I have a particular interest in socio-legal research methods, including research ethics.
I supervise a number of students who are working on PhDs in the fields of family law and criminal justice, many of them adopting empirical approaches.