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Forensic psychologist

Forensic psychologists apply psychology in the criminal and civil justice field. They often work for:

    • academic institutions
    • prison services
    • the NHS
    • probation services
    • police services
    • social services

The largest employer of forensic psychologists in the UK is Her Majesty's prison service. However, forensic psychologists are increasingly working with a wide range of agencies.

Working as a forensic psychologist

Work as a forensic psychologist is varied both within, and across, forensic settings and may include both occupational and clinical elements. For example, part of the role of forensic psychologists, in both the health and prison services, may include providing a consultancy service to managers. Work is undertaken with offenders, victims, criminal and civil justice staff and managers.

Two key areas of development in recent years have been 'risk assessment' procedures with offenders and, in particular, interventions with sex offenders with a focus on reducing the risk of re-offending. 

Forensic psychologists are also increasingly becoming involved in child protection work with social services.

A forensic psycholgist's work may include:

  • piloting and implementing new 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 expert evidence in court
  • advising parole boards and mental health tribunals
  • crime analysis