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The forensic research team aims to produce theoretically-informed and evidence-based research that has an applied focus, with clear potential impact in the areas of investigative and forensic psychology.

Strong collaborative links with practitioner colleagues promote practice-based research, allowing us to address issues that are directly relevant to real world criminal justice settings, and to contribute to the development of practitioner training.

Meet our team

Research Group Co-ordinator: Dr Clea Wright, Senior Lecturer in Psychology  

Mike Blakeley, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Policing

Prof Ros Bramwell, Director of School of Psychology  

Dale Chandler, PhD student

Dr Miriam Dyberg-Tengroth, Lecturer in Psychology  

Geoff Elvey, Head of the Institute of Policing  

Dr Jenny Hardy, Lecturer in Psychology

Dr Glenys Holt, Lecturer in Psychology

Caroline Mather, MRes Student

Dr Michelle Mattison, Honorary Member

Kate Miller, PhD student  

Dr Lisa Oakley, Associate Professor in Psychology  

Louise Parker, PhD student  

Connor Pell, Graduate Teaching Assistant & PhD student  

Dr Jeremy Phillips, BSc Forensic Psychology Programme Leader

Amy Roberts, Lecturer in Psychology

Dean Wilkinson, Leading Research Fellow, Institute of Policing

Some of our current projects

The experiences of domestic abuse support workers in the pandemic

There are relatively few studies about the experiences of domestic abuse support workers in the UK but the existing studies suggest this is a challenging but also rewarding role. The pandemic necessitated a change in delivery of services. This study employs a qualitative methodology using photo elicitation as method to explore experiences of delivering domestic violence support during the pandemic.

Downplaying crime severity amplifies perception of guilt: The effect of directional errors in confession evidence (PI: Dr Glenys Holt)

This project is investigating how errors in confessions, that either amplify or downplay the severity of the crime, influence judgments of guilt. Results suggest that perceived deliberate ploys to downplay crime severity might result in a stronger perception of guilt.  This may be one explanation as to why jurors will sometimes ignore inconsistencies in confession evidence, with further studies planned to investigate other possible explanations.

The Media representation of terrorist offences (PI: Dr Jeremy Phillips)

Taking a Discourse Analysis approach, and focusing on recent terrorist attacks, this project aims to understand the ways in which these offences are constructed through language. A comparative analysis of newspapers with different political stances allows insight into the processes that lead to the different attitudes that are known to permeate readership demographics. The work aims to feed into the growing literature on social cohesion, policy formation and media influence.

Verbal cues to deception in police interviews with homicide suspects (PI: Dr Clea Wright)

In this research project, transcripts of real life police interviews with homicide suspects are being analysed to investigate which verbal behaviours may indicate that a suspect is lying. It is likely that some verbal behaviours are generalizable across contexts, but recent research also suggests that specific behaviours may emerge from close focus on a specific context. A flexible methodology is being employed, incorporating both theoretical and data driven approaches, to allow for the investigation of cross-context cues, and also for context-specific cues to emerge.

Police interviewing of homicide suspects (PI: Kate Miller)

The current programme of research is an investigation of 60 real-life homicide suspect interviews. The data sample consists of suspects differing in their truthfulness and guilt for the crimes they are questioned for. In examining the use of question types and evidence disclosure, the research details differences in the interviews affected by suspect veracity and culpability. Also considered is how the serious nature of being interviewed for homicide affects interviewee and interviewer behaviour. It is hoped that the findings will contribute to the understanding of effective police interview practice in the real world.

Police suspect interviewing: The use and effectiveness of summarising (PI: Connor Pell)

Summarising is a key interview skill which serves various communicative, strategic and legal functions. However, despite the importance of summarising, very few researchers have investigated its use in practice. On the few occasions where it has been considered, findings indicate that summaries are often absent or unfit for purpose. Therefore, with its roots firmly in applied practice, the aim of this PhD is to provide a detailed investigation of the use of summarising in police interviews.

Recent publications

Oakley, L., & Keeling, J. (2020). The Law and safeguarding children and young people in the UK in J. Keeling and D. Goosey (Ed) Safeguarding Across the Lifespan, Sage.

Oakley, L., Kinmond, K., & Humphreys, J. (2019). Safeguarding Children who are exposed to abuse linked to faith or belief. Child Abuse Review, 28, 27-38. 

Mattison, M. L. A., Dando, C. J., & Ormerod, T. (2018).  Drawing the answers: Sketching to support free and probed recall by child witnesses and victims with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice.

Cooper, P., & Mattison, M. L. A. (2018). 'Section 28' and the pre-recording of cross-examination: What can advocates expect in 2018? Criminal Law and Justice Weekly, 182(1), 7 – 9

Stewart, S. L. K., Wright, C., & Atherton, C. (2018). Deception detection and truth detection are dependent on different cognitive and emotional traits: An investigation of emotional intelligence, theory of mind, and attention. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Wright, C. & Wheatcroft, J. M. (2017). Police officer’s beliefs about, and use of, cues to deception. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling.

Palmer, M. A., Sauer, J. D., & Holt, G. A. (2017). Undermining position effects in choices from arrays, with implications for police lineups. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 23(1), 71-84