Research in the Forensic Psychology Unit
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Areas of expertise within the unit
- Investigative psychology: including investigative interviewing (face-to-face or remote), deception detection, information elicitation, facilitating retrieval, facilitating cooperation, building rapport, factors influencing the reliability of eyewitness memory.
- Understanding and responding to criminal behaviour: including stalking, image-based sexual abuse, technology-facilitated sexual violence
- Interventions and prevention: including education programmes, situational prevention, offender rehabilitation
Missing person investigations
We are currently involved in a number of projects relating to missing person investigations in collaboration with UK police forces, the National Crime Agency Missing Persons Unit, and charities Missing People and Locate International. This has involved us developing psychologically informed tools to (i) obtain information about the person reported missing, and (ii) from the missing person themselves when they have been located or have returned home.
With Locate International, we are developing a range of resources for use in long-term missing person cases. This includes a Self-Administered Interview (SAI) to gather information about the missing person from those who knew them at the time, with the ambitious aim of identifying novel leads in the investigation.
We also liaise with family members and other investigative teams to develop innovative solutions to advance missing people cases.
Our investigative team is directed by Prof Fiona Gabbert and Dr Adrian Scott, with other members of the team acting as senior reviewers, reviewers, and (in the future) analysts.
We currently have two senior reviewers (Celine Brouillard and Katie Toolin) who provide investigative focus for the case reviews, and coordinate and motivate the team. We also have three reviewers (Phoebe Sleigh-Johnson, Amy van Langeraad and Veronica Michieletto) who identify and investigate potential lines of enquiry, and ensure that all information is properly recorded.
We aim to expand our team to include analysts, who evaluate and interpret the information gathered during the reviews to identify links, gaps and inconsistencies. If you’re interested in working alongside us in Missing Person investigations, please get in touch with Fiona (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Online Investigative Interview Training
With generous funding from the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group, we have developed online training modules for two key investigative interview skills; (i) Asking the right questions at the right time, and (ii) Building rapport with your interviewee.
Both modules are informed by current scientific understanding as to ‘what works’ to elicit reliable information within an information-gathering context. We are currently testing these training modules to examine knowledge and skill-enhancement. Our training materials will be open source for all to use once our study is complete.
Take part in some of our current studies
Jo Kenrick: What do people really think about lying and being lied to?
Is it harder to lie to someone who knows you well? is there really a difference between 'white' lies and major deceptions? These are some of the questions this study wants to answer by surveying as wide a range of people as possible about their beliefs and real-life experiences with deception.
If you are interested please take part here.
Chelsea Mainwaring: Attitudes and behavioural responses to the taking and sharing of nude or sexual images of others
In this study, we are looking at attitudes and behavioural responses to the taking and sharing of nude or sexual images (photos or videos) of others. Participants are presented with a scenario which describes someone taking or sharing nude or sexual images of another person without their permission, and are asked to reflect on their own attitudes and behavioural responses to this behaviour. Participants are also invited to reflect upon any real-life experiences of these behaviours.
Adelina Marin: Could you be an informer?
In the UK, informers are defined in law under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) as a Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS). CHIS are crucial to investigators because they can access valuable information such as offender identity or gain insight into the otherwise inaccessible future intentions of criminals (e.g., terrorism) that cannot be obtained through third party witnesses or suspect interviewing. The role of a CHIS is a very demanding one because sources must covertly gather information about a particular person of interest and report it to their handler, whilst remaining loyal to their criminal network by not sharing all the information they hold as they can put their lives in danger.
If you choose to take part in this research, you will be asked to adopt the role of a CHIS. You will be given an online questionnaire which contains a few demographic questions and a conversation for you to listen to. After a 20-minutes break, you will receive a Zoom invite and your ‘handler’ will interview you about the conversation you have previously listened to. At the end of the interview, you will be sent another questionnaire to complete based on your interaction with your handler, after which you will be debriefed. Your interaction with your ‘handler’ will be voice recorded for later analysis.
This study should take 50 minutes in total to complete. You will automatically be entered in a prize draw, and you could be in with 1 (or more) chance(s) of winning one of the 20 x £10 Amazon vouchers.
If you’d like more information and/or to take part, please email me at email@example.com.