I was a psychologist in HM Prison Service for fourteen years, attaining the rank of Principal Psychologist. I worked in a number of high security prisons (principally Wakefield, Full Sutton and Hull special unit), specialising in work with lifers, sex offenders and personality disordered individuals. My last few years were served at the Prison Service College in developing training for prison officers and governors. Sidelines included being a hostage negotiation advisor (a role which extended to firearms incidents with the police) and an in-service counsellor for staff suffering from post-traumatic and other forms of stress. I left in 1997 to start up the first MSc in forensic psychology in Scotland and joined the University of Portsmouth as a Principal Lecturer in 2000.
A major impetus behind this change of direction was a growing role in the development of academic and professional training for forensic psychologists in the UK. From being forensic representative on the BPS project on Occupational Standards in Applied Psychology, I came to be Chair of the Training Committee of the Division of Forensic Psychology and steered the formulation of accreditation criteria for MSc courses in the field; this was followed by the development of standards for supervised practice leading to chartered status. I have also been a member of national working parties on homicide, suicide and disasters and is currently on the steering committee of a Hampshire- based initiative for diverting veterans from the criminal justice system.
My current research interests include the role of life events as precursors to homicide and processes involved in personal change. I have also supervised several MSc projects in the Young Women’s Unit of a large women’s prison, where the focus has been on attachment, instability of the sense of self and perceptions of the interpersonal environment. The latter area has led to an involvement in the area of therapeutic communities and improving interpersonal relations in custodial settings as a necessary part of the rehabilitative process more generally. Recent research has also encompassed the problems of former military personnel in prisons and the problems that veterans can face in making the transition from military to civilian life.