Dr. Lucy Akehurst
Associate Head for Teaching and Learning, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
In 1993, I graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a BSc (Hons) Psychology degree and commenced research for a Ph.D programme (HEFCE funded). My Ph.D research involved liaison with legal professionals, police officers and social workers. Five empirical studies investigated numerous issues regarding the detection of deception including nonverbal cues to deceit, the analysis and application of Criteria-Based Content Analysis and the perceptions of people with regard to cues to deceit. In September 1996, I took a one-year Research Associate post at the University of Wales, Swansea working on a Leverhulme Trust funded project with Dr Mark Blagrove entitled, 'The influence of sleep loss, personality and confidence on eyewitness suggestibility'. I graduated with a Ph.D from the University of Portsmouth in June 1997 and joined the Department of Psychology at Portsmouth soon after. I am currently the Associate Head for Teaching and Learning for the Department of Psychology, and the Course Leader for BSc Forensic Psychology. I also sit on the Science Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee and the University's Student Support and Advice Committee.
I co-ordinate a postgraduate unit on our MSc Child Forensic Studies: Psychology and Law course namely Detecting Deception and Child Perpetrators. I am also the unit co-ordinator for two undergraduate units, Introduction to Forensic Psychology (Level 6) and Forensic Psychology in Context (Level 4). I supervise final year research projects at both undergraduate and postgraduate level on the detection of deception, suggestibility, investigative interviewing and jury decision making. I am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Research interests and activities
• Nonverbal cues to deception
• The analysis and application of Statement Validity Assessment (and more specifically
Criteria-Based Content Analysis) as a method for detecting deceit in written accounts
• The perceptions of lay people and professionals with regard to cues to deceit
• Interviewing children for legal purposes
• External and internal influences on eyewitness suggestibility (especially the impact of
socially encountered misinformation)
• Detecting malingering in the medico-legal setting
In 2002, I completed a two-year, ESRC-funded project with Professor Aldert Vrij entitled, 'Will the truth come out? An investigation into the accuracy of Criteria-Based Content Analysis'. I have supervised four successful PhD students. Since 1996, I have been peer reviewing manuscripts for Expert Evidence, Legal and Criminological Psychology, Psychology, Crime and Law, Applied Cognitive Psychology and the Journal of Applied Social Psychology and in the last two years I have reviewed grant applications for the ESRC and Leverhulme Trust. In 2006 I was invited to be a member of the organising committee for the 2nd International Investigative Interviewing conference. I am a member of the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology.
Publications Before 2000
Blagrove, M. and Akehurst, L. (2000). The effects of sleep loss on confidence-accuracy relationships for reasoning and eyewitness memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 6(1), 59-73.
Akehurst, L. and Vrij, A. (1999). Creating suspects in police interviews. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, 192-210.
Akehurst, L., Koehnken, G., Bull, R., and Vrij, A. (1996). Police officers’ and lay persons’ beliefs regarding deceptive behaviour. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 10, 461-471.
Recent conference presentations
Since 1999 I have acted as a consultant with regard to the detection of deception for both corporate institutions (e.g. Royal and Sun Alliance and GAB Robins) and the public sector (e.g. Somerset NHS trust and South Wales Constabulary). Training has involved anything from half day sessions to two day training programmes.
I am often asked to contribute to radio and television programmes offering insight into the detection of deception and I organised a conference for April 2008 entitled “Aiding children in the legal system: Lessons from research”. I was on the organizing committee for the British Psychological Society's Division of Forensic Psychology conference which was hosted by our Department in June 2011.
In 2011 I was invited by the Judicial College in London to contribute to an on going programme of training seminars for judges in England and Wales. As part of the 'Craft of Judging' seminar (which runs three times a year) I disseminate the research findings, of myself and colleagues in the Department of Psychology, regarding cues to lying and how best to detect lies in the courtroom.
Akehurst, L. & Easton, S. (2012) . Detecting malingering in the medico-legal setting. Invited Keynote Speech at the Dutch International Congress for Insurance Medicine, 7 – 9 November, Almere, The Netherlands.
Akehurst, L. & Feleppa, E. (2008). When co-witnesses confer it's not always bad news. Paper presented at the 18th conference of the European Association of Psychology & Law, 2-5 July, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
Akehurst, L., Burden, N., & Buckle, J. (2007). “I don’t remember it like that!”: The effect of a delay and socially encountered misinformation on children’s suggestibility. Paper presented at BPS sponsored seminar concerning Social Influences on Memory. 2nd June, University of Portsmouth
Akehurst, L., Manton, S., & Quandte, S. (2007). The impact of CBCA ratings on judgements of credibility: A field investigation. Paper presented at a conference entitled Off the Witness Stand: Using Psychology in the Practice of Justice, 1 – 3 March, New York, USA.
Akehurst, L., & Worsley, J. (2006). Developmental trends in memory conformity for eyewitnesses. Paper presented at the 26th International Congress of Applied Psychology, 16 – 21 July, Athens, Greece.
Akehurst, L., Manton, S., & Quandte, S. (2006). The effectivenss of Criteria-Based Content Analysis in distinguishing between truthful and fabricated statements of child sexual abuse: The first UK-based field study. Paper presented at the 2nd International Investigative Interviewing conference, 5 – 7 July, Portsmouth, UK.
Akehurst, L. (2006). Distance learning: The highs and the lows. Paper presented at the University of Portsmouth, Science Faculty Learning and Teaching Conference. 26th June 2006, Portsmouth, UK.
Akehurst, L. (2005). Children’s deceptive behaviour. Invited presentation at conference entitled ‘Investigative interviewing of child witnesses: Taking stock and looking forward’, 5 – 7 September, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Akehurst, L & Burden, N. (2005). The effects of misinformation on children’s eyewitness testimony Paper presented at the 15th European Conference of Psychology and Law, 29th June – 2nd July, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Akehurst, L., Brown, L. & Vrij, A. (2004). E-mailed vs written vs verbal accounts: Implications for the detection of lies. Paper presented at the 14th European Conference of Psychology and Law, 8 – 11 July, Krakow, Poland.