Forensic Psychology as a
What do forensic psychologists do?
• Forensic psychology is concerned with the psychological aspects of
legal processes in courts. The term is also often used to refer to
investigative and criminological psychology: applying psychological
theory to criminal investigation, understanding psychological problems
associated with criminal behaviour and the treatment of criminals.
Key tasks undertaken by forensic psychologists
• piloting and implementing treatment programmes
• modifying offender behaviour
• responding to the changing needs of staff and prisoners
• reducing stress for staff and prisoners
• providing hard research evidence to support practice
• undertaking statistical analysis for prisoner profiling
• giving evidence in court
• advising parole boards and mental health tribunals
• crime analysis
Where do they work?
• The largest single employer of forensic psychologists in the UK is HM
Prison Service (which includes the Home Office Research and
Development Unit as well as prisons).
• Forensic psychologists can also be employed in:
– the health service (including rehabilitation units and secure hospitals)
– the social service (including the police service, young offenders units, and
the probation service)
– university departments
– private consultancy.
Qualifying as a forensic psychologist
• To become a Chartered Member of the Society through the forensic
psychology training route, you will need the following qualifications:
• Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). This is achieved by
completing a Society accredited degree or conversion course
• Society accredited Masters in Forensic Psychology
• Stage 2 of the Society’s Qualification in Forensic Psychology (two
years supervised practice)
• Some universities offer a doctorate programme in Forensic Psychology.
This qualification makes you eligible to become a Chartered Member of
• In order to use the title Forensic Psychologist, you will need to be
registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC).
• Joint (hons) in Psychology and English literature
• An MSc in Occupational Psychology
• Conversion to Forensic Psychology via the BPS Certificate.
• Assistant psychologist role in HMPS HQ researching the
criminogenic needs of female offenders.
• Trainee psychologist role on a treatment programme for high
risk violent offenders. Gained chartership and promoted to
National Lead for the violence programme.
• Moved to a project to design a treatment programme for very
violent high risk psychopathic men. Now National Clinical Lead
for this programme.
• Co-author of the programme for high risk violent and psychopathic
offenders. Oversee national and local implementation, deliver/oversee
national staff training and supervision, provide clinical support and
auditing, manage the budget and advise government on effective
working with this population.
• Work clinically with violent offenders and conduct and supervise risk
• Develop training workshops for staff in health and prison service on
working with personality disordered offenders.
• Research and evaluate treatment effectiveness and present findings at
national and international conferences.
• Publish journal articles and book chapters.
• Supervise trainee forensic psychologists.
Is it for me?
• You are nonjudgmental and believe in capacity for change
• You can separate the person from their behavior
• You are robust but able to learn from feedback and acknowledge your
• You want to protect the public as well as improve the lives of offenders
• You are interested in legal processes and can cope with working in
secure (often bleak!) environments
• You work well in a team as well as independently.
• You like a challenge! Literally a captive audience…..
How to get into it…
• Get work experience - ideally working with
people with challenging personal and social
• Often universities will have links with HMPS
• Be prepared to start as an assistant (even if
you have a Masters!)
• Find good supervisor who has contacts.