Skip to main content

Forensic Psychology Research Group

The Forensic Research Group (FRG) focuses on producing high impact research based on good quality outputs. There are five streams of primary research: Interpersonal violence; Sexual abuse and exploitation; Treatment evaluation and development; Applications to criminal and community justice systems; and Forensic mental health and disorder.

The FRG is linked directly to the Ashworth Research Centre (ARC), a forensic-clinical research unit based within Ashworth High Secure Hospital, Mersey Care NHS trust. ARC also has a direct association with the University of Maastricht where we take on postgraduate forensic psychology interns every year to support applied research. The FRG is also linked to CCATS (Coastal Child and Adult Therapeutic Services).


A core focus of the FRG is the application of research and advancement of understanding that can enhance practice, capturing the following core areas:

including victimisation, stalking, intimate partner violence, honour based abuse, violence, and killing (via HARM network), intra-group bullying, stress responses and aggression, risk assessment, critical incidents/hostage taking.Interpersonal violence

including working with victims and offenders, human trafficking, online exploitation (including over-looked populations).Sexual abuse and exploitation

including offender behaviour interventions and victim interventions. This area includes leading with the development of the Life Minus Violence-Enhanced (LMV-E), long term therapy programme.Treatment evaluation and development

including delinquency, cybercrime, organised crime, terrorism and radicalisation, suspect identification.Applications to criminal and community justice systems

including trauma, personality disorder, psychopathy, self-injurious behaviour, gambling and other addictions, severe mental illness.Forensic mental health and disorder

We produce research that has clear impact on the development of forensic practice, the reduction of offending and the protection that can be afforded to victims. Examples of impact that FRG has been directly involved in, includes:

  • The development and implementation of offending behaviour programmes that are applied across a range of specialist services; this includes the Life Minus Violence therapy, delivered to over 1,000 patients and prisoners since 2013.
  • Training in crisis negotiation, including development of specialist packages used by forensic services in secure and community settings.
  • Developing methods of measuring and diagnosing clinical psychopathy, including the self-report PAPA (Psychopathic Processing and Personality Assessment).
  • Developing national and international policy on aggression management and responding to trauma in secure services.
  • Developing procedures and facial-imaging systems (incl. EvoFIT) for the police to identify serious offenders (
  • Developing trauma-informed packages and intervention designed to support victims.
  • Advising on national policy associated with exploitation, cybercrime and honour-abuse.

Examples of good quality outputs since 2018 include:

Adams, C., Ireland, J. L. (2018). The role of beliefs and trait aggression in prison bullying among young offenders. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, 29:3: 351-367.

Anderson, A., Bryce, J., Ireland, C. A., Ireland, J. L. (2019). A preliminary review of cyber-detection factors: offering from a systematic review. Salus: An International Journal of Law Enforcement and Public Safety, 7: 88-107.

Archer, J. (2019). The reality and evolutionary significance of human psychological sex differences. Biological Reviews.

Bate, S., Frowd, C. D., Bennetts, R., Hasshim, N., Murray, E., Bobak, A. K., ... Richards, S. (2018). Applied screening tests for the detection of superior face recognition. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 3: 22,

Bate, S., Frowd, C. D., Bennetts, R., Hasshim, N., Portch, E., Murray, E., Dudfield, G. (2019). The consistency of superior face recognition skills in police officers. Applied Cognitive Psychology, DOI: 10.1002/acp.3525.

Birch, P., Cox, E. (2019). Immediate responses by service providers after a violent critical incident: A systematic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 46, 8-14.

Birch, P. and Harvey-Braun, D. (2019) Sexual health, sexual rights and the procurement of sexual services: Evidence of the interface between Sexual Health and Criminal Justice. Journal of Forensic Practice, 21:2, 145-157

Brown, C., Portch, E., Nelson, L., & Frowd, C. D. (2019). Re-evaluating the role of verbalisation of faces for composite production: Descriptions of offenders matter! Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.

Carré, J. M., Archer, J. (2018). Testosterone and human behavior: The role of individual and contextual variables. Current opinion in psychology, 19: 149-153.

Cramer, R.J., Ireland, J.L., Hartley, V., Long, M.M., Ireland, C. A., Wilkins, T. (2019). Coping, Mental Health, and Subjective Well-being among Mental Health Staff working in Secure Forensic Psychiatric Settings: Results from a Workplace Health Assessment. Psychological Services, April 22

Cramer, R.J., Ireland, J.L., Long, M.M., Hartley, V., Lamis, D.A. (2019). Initial Validation of the Suicide Competency Assessment Form among Behavioral Health Staff in the National Health Services (NHS) Trust. Archives of Suicide Research, 1 – 14.

Ireland, C. A., Ireland, J. L., Jones, N.S., Chu, S., Lewis, M. (2019). Predicting security incidents in high secure male psychiatric care. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 64: May-June, 40 – 52.

Ireland., J. L., Lewis, M., Ireland, C. A., Derefaka, G., Taylor, L., McBoyle, J., Smillie, J., Chu, S., Archer, J. (2019). Self-reported psychopathy and aggression motivation: A role for emotions? Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, December.

Ireland, J. L., Sebalo, I., McNeill, K., Murphy, K., Brewer, G., Ireland, C., Chu, S., Lewis., M., Greenwood, L. Nally, T (2019). Impacting on factors promoting intra-group aggression in secure psychiatric settings. Heliyon, 5:3, March, e01400.

Kennedy, M., Birch, P. (2018) Changing the perception of police culture: Recognising masculinity diversity and difference in a 'dirty hands' vocation. Journal of Forensic Practice, 20:1, 1-6

Khan, R, Brewer, G., Archer., J. (2019). Genetic relatedness, emotional closeness and physical aggression: A comparison of full and half-sibling experiences. Europe's Journal of Psychology.

Lambert, K., Chu, S., Duffy, C., Hartley, V., Baker, A., Ireland, J. L. (2018). The prevalence of constant supportive observations in a high, medium and low secure service. BJPsych Bulletin, 1-5, 42:2, 54-58. doi:10.1192/bjb.2017.14

Lewis, M., Ireland, J. L. (2019). Understanding motives for aggression in forensic psychiatric patients: A preliminary study. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, 30, 496 - 509.

Lowe, M., Khan, R., Thanzami, V., Barzy, M., Karmaliani, R. (2019). Antigay “Honor” Abuse: A Multinational Attitudinal Study of Collectivist-Versus Individualist-Orientated Populations in Asia and England. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 0886260519838493.

McGauran, A., Brooks, M., Khan, R. (2019). The role of emotional resilience, childhood parentification, and attachment style on antisocial behaviour in adulthood: a comparison of an offender and normative population. Journal of Criminal Psychology, 9:2, 75-87.

Mooney., R., Ireland, J. L., Lewis., M. (2019). Understanding interpersonal relationships and psychopathy in forensic psychiatric and student samples. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, 1 – 28.

Rimmer, B., & Birch, P. (2019). Exploring factors affecting attitudes towards rape survivors: the role of sexuality and religiosity. Journal of Forensic Practice, 21:2, 139-144.

Skelton, F. C., Frowd, C. D., Hancock, P. J., Jones, H. S., Jones, B., Fodarella, C., ... Logan, K. (2019). Constructing identifiable composite faces: the importance of cognitive alignment of interview and construction procedure. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.

Recent international handbooks led by the FRG include:

Ireland, J. L., Ireland, C. A., Birch, P. (Eds.) (2018). Assessment, Treatment and Management of Violent and Sexual Offenders, 2nd Edition, Routledge: New York, US.

Ireland, J. L., Birch, P., Ireland. C. A. (Eds.) (2018), Routledge International Handbook on Aggression, Routledge: New York, US.

Ireland, J. L., Ireland, C. A., Fisher., M., Gredecki., N (Eds.) (2017) Routledge International Handbook of Forensic Psychology in Secure Settings. Routledge: New York, US.


FRG Lead: Dr Carol A. Ireland, Reader, Chartered Psychologist, Consultant Forensic Psychologist, Clinical Research Lead, Ashworth Research Centre and Consultant Forensic Psychologist, CCATS. 


  • Dr Jo Bryce, Senior Lecturer (Cybercrime). 
  • Associate Professor Robert Cramer, Honorary Research Fellow, Old Dominion University, US. 
  • Professor Charlie Frowd, Professor of Forensic Psychology. 
  • Professor Jane L. Ireland, Chartered Psychologist, Forensic Psychologist, Ashworth Research Centre Lead and Consultant Forensic Psychologist, CCATS.
  • Dr Roxanne Khan, Director of HARM (Honour Abuse Research Matrix), Chartered Psychologist and Scientist, Senior Lecturer (Forensic),
  • Dr Michael Lewis, Chartered Psychologist, Lecturer (Forensic) and in-training Forensic Psychologist. 
  • Dr Abigail Thornton, Senior Lecturer (Forensic). 
  • Dr V J Willan, Senior Lecturer (Forensic) 

The FRG is connected to five international journals:

  • Aggressive Behavior (former Editor in Chief, Professor John Archer and current Consulting Editor, Professor Jane L. Ireland)
  • Journal of Forensic Practice (Editor in Chief, Dr Carol Ireland).
  • Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research (JACPR) (Editors in Chief, Professor Jane L. Ireland and Dr Robert Cramer)
  • Journal of Criminological Research Policy and Practice (JCRPP) (Editors in Chief, Dr Michael Lewis and Professor Jane L. Ireland)
  • SALUS Journal (Editor in Chief Dr Philip Birch)
  • Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology (Associate Editor, Professor Jane L. Ireland)

CCATS (Coastal Child and Adult Therapy Services), Poulton le Flyde. Lead clinician and research lead, Dr Carol A Ireland.

British Transport Police: Core research collaborator, Dr Michael Lewis.

Maastricht University, Forensic Psychology Masters and Postgraduate Intern Scheme.

Dr Roxanne Khan HARM Network

The following represent recently completed and/or current PhD programmes of research supervised by the FRG:

  • ​Aggression motivation
  • Asking for more information: Can recognition-based enhancements made to internal features produce more accurate composites?
  • Child sexual exploitation and developmental trauma
  • Crisis intervention: Understanding motivations
  • Developing a new model of understanding self-injury in secure settings: the role of risk, protective and attitude factors
  • Developing measures of psychopathy
  • Enhancing the effectiveness of facial-composite images using detailed recall of the environmental context (crime scene)
  • Factors promoting negative symptoms and strength factors following institutional/in care abuse
  • Pathways towards and away from problematic gambling
  • Radicalisation and terrorism
  • Self-administered procedures for constructing identifiable facial composites
  • Sleep and association with aggression
  • Strategies for evolving identifiable facial composite images
  • Trauma in the police
  • Trauma in the armed forces
  • Trauma in staff based in secure services
  • Understanding aggression cognition and physiological responding
  • Understanding risk and protective factors for violence and self-harm in a forensic psychiatric sample
  • Victims of non-recent abuse in secure and care services
  • Victim safety strategies in abusive intimate partner relationships: Working towards a victim-informed harm reduction model