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About this book

This brand new textbook provides a complete course in forensic psychology, covering the criminal justice system, law and legislation, and treatments and outcomes for offenders. It offers rigorous coverage of the major topics: from theoretical concepts and research methods to explaining criminal acts and patterns of crime. The authors, both from leading institutions and well-known in the field, guide readers through the interlocking systems of criminal justice, mental health and social service provision, providing a deeper critical appreciation of what motivates crime and how criminal behaviour can be understood, assessed and treated.
This text will be core reading for upper level undergraduates and postgraduates studying forensic psychology, either as a module on a BSc Psychology degree or on an MSc for trainee Forensic Psychologists. It will also be ideal for early career practitioners.

Table of Contents

Forensic Psychology: Concepts, Methods and Theory

Frontmatter

1. Forensic Psychology

Abstract
Not so very long ago, few people had heard of ‘forensic psychology’ and it would have been difficult to find someone who described his or her job using that title. The picture of what the role entails appears to have become implanted in the popular imagination through television dramas, most notably the popular and highly acclaimed 1990s series Cracker, in which a somewhat eccentric (not to say maverick) psychologist enables the police to solve serious crimes, and to track down dangerous people using what at times appear to be ingenious insights. Perhaps the image has been sustained, and even amplified, by real-life media reports, which tap into the public’s seemingly limitless fascination with violent and sexual crimes. This depiction contains and perhaps also perpetuates a series of misconceptions. First, even today relatively few people who call themselves forensic psychologists work alongside the police, and those who do are unlikely to employ anything resembling the approach used by Eddie Fitzgerald, Cracker’s central character. The majority, in fact, work at what might be called the opposite end of the lawand- order process, in prisons and other penal agencies.
James McGuire, James McGuire

2. Defining and Surveying Crime

Abstract
what brings a citizen to the attention of the law and sets in motion a process that at some stage involves contact with a forensic psychologist? in the vast majority of instances, it will be because the individual in question has been charged with or convicted of a criminal offence. we devote the opening chapters of this book to understanding ‘crime’, because it is an act considered to belong in that category that triggers someone’s entry to the ‘system’ of legal, penal, mental health and social work services and agencies within which forensic psychologists work. much of what happens throughout the entire process that is then set in motion will be influenced by the nature, severity and frequency of that initial offending. Part 1 of the book (comprising Chapters 1–5) therefore gives an overview of the role that psychology plays in the study of crime and of antisocial behaviour more generally.
James McGuire, James McGuire

3. Researching Crime: Methods and Correlates

Abstract
So far, we have discussed a general picture of crime, reviewing definitions of what crime is thought to be; and how, with reference to the most commonly used definition, it is recorded and then patterns within it are analysed. Moving on from this descriptive approach, our next step is to examine what variables are correlated with crime, an area now usually seen as the realm of risk factors research. This has been an area of momentous growth in psychology and criminal justice, particularly in the period since roughly 1990 onwards. A ‘risk factor’ is a variable that is significantly correlated with an adverse outcome of interest – correlated to the extent that the risk factor can be used as a predictor of that outcome, though there is unlikely to be any single factor (or even a combination of factors) that can do this perfectly. The concept of risk factors and their identification through steadily mounting research has represented a major advance in forensic and other forms of applied psychology. It also underpins the process of risk assessment that we will describe more fully in Chapter 18.
James McGuire, James McGuire

4. Explaining Crime: Theories and Perspectives

Abstract
In Chapter 2, we reviewed some of the challenges that arise in trying to define ‘crime’. For practical purposes, however, we found that we needed to work within the conventional definition of criminal acts, mainly because that is the basis on which the criminal justice system operates. In Chapter 3, we reviewed evidence on the correlates of crime, and variables that can be identified as closely associated with it, some of which are regarded as ‘risk factors’ for criminal involvement. In this chapter, we will look more closely into debates on the ‘causes of crime’ and consider some important questions. Do structural factors such as unemployment, poverty or inequality play a part in criminal acts? Do rates of crime vary from one place to another, and if so what could be the reasons for that? What, if any, is the role of genetic factors in crime? Does crime run in families, and if so is that a result of inheritance or of some aspect of parenting? Are there criminal personalities? Do individuals make deliberate, calculated decisions to commit offences, or are offences the result of instant, spurof- the-moment decisions that go badly wrong; or some mixture of the two?
James McGuire, James McGuire

5. Understanding Criminal Acts and Actors

Abstract
As we noted in Chapters 3 and 4, numerous influences have been associated with the occurrence of criminal acts. To put it at its simplest, there is no single variable to which we can point and say, ‘That is the cause of crime.’ Like other types of behavioural and social problems, antisocial and illegal conduct is influenced by a number of variables, and is usually described as multifactorial in origin. We should also bear in mind that to qualify as a ‘risk factor’ (such as those we encountered in Chapter 3), a variable need only be correlated with offending or antisocial behaviour ℃ that variable may or may not be causal. Moffitt and Caspi probably voiced the thoughts of many in the field when they asserted that research on antisocial behaviour is ‘stuck at the “risk-factor” stage’ (2007, p. 97). Nevertheless, there are highly developed theoretical accounts of the factors that influence antisocial behaviour rather than being simply correlated with it. In this chapter and in Part 2 of the book, we will take a closer look at some of them.
James McGuire, James McGuire

Offences: Types of Crime and Influencing Factors

Frontmatter

6. Assault and Hate Crimes

Abstract
There are large numbers of ‘ordinary’ crimes – crimes that the majority of citizens say are of the most frequent concern to them, and that take up the biggest single share of most police officers’ time. On account of their sheer number they are broadly termed volume crime by the police, who have defined the category as including offences of street robbery, burglary (dwelling and non-dwelling), theft (including shoplifting), theft of and from vehicles, criminal damage, and drug offences linked with acquisitive crime (Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 2001, p. 9). Those who have committed only these kinds of offences – which survey evidence suggests at one time or another includes a large segment of the population – are very unlikely ever to encounter a forensic psychologist. The group of people with whom our profession works may well have committed these offences at some stage, but by and large they will also have committed others of a graver nature, usually involving personal or sexual violence, or some other type of significant harm.
James McGuire, James McGuire

7. Single-Victim Homicide

Abstract
In everyday language, people who have killed someone may be described as being ‘killers’ or ‘murderers’. In legal terms and in psychological and criminological research, the terms used are more precise. The suffix-cide denotes the killing of the named category of people to which it is attached. Homicide is the general term for killing a person; femicide refers to the killing of women; and eldercide to the killing of an older adult. On a different scale entirely, there is also genocide, though defining what that is raises complexities we will consider in the next chapter. Killing another person can sometimes be lawful, as, for example, in the slaying of an enemy combatant in battle, in justifiable self-defence, or in an accidental death that an inquest accepts could not have been foreseen. The actus reus of homicide is the unlawful killing of another person, and the law in England and Wales defines three principal categories: murder, manslaughter and infanticide. The current statutory framework governing homicide is provided by the Homicide Act 1957, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, and the Infanticide Act 1938.
James McGuire, James McGuire

8. Multiple Homicide

Abstract
All homicides can be said to create multiple victims, in the sense that relatives of the deceased are also caused significant and enduring distress of several kinds. A small proportion of homicides, however, involve the killing of more than one person. Multiple homicide takes a number of forms; and the possibility of it happening is an understandable source of far-reaching concern, and sometimes outright terror, in any community. Alongside those reactions there is also a kind of morbid fascination, fed by a steady stream of crime novels, films and television series, which often depict how such individuals are eventually caught in a way that bears little resemblance to actual events. (Perhaps it is this, more than anything else, that has created a misleading image of what most forensic psychologists do for a living.) The reality of the crimes, however, is often extremely grisly in itself and can pose extraordinary challenges on a number of levels, without any need for creative embellishment.
James McGuire, James McGuire

9. Sexual Offences and Partner Assault

Abstract
Violent offences can result from a range of motives, which sometimes appear to be of a relatively simple and fairly obvious nature. That applies particularly to offences that are reactive, the result of expressive or emotional aggression: a person who is provoked or threatened responds almost automatically. In other situations, motives may be wholly instrumental: individuals plan to use violence, or are prepared to use violence, to achieve other ends. In many more cases, however, there is a complex mix of these two patterns. This chapter will focus on serious crimes that entail some form of aggression towards or disregard for others, and in which the offences committed take a number of particular forms, usually combining reactive and instrumental aggression. In the course of the chapter we will focus on a succession of offence categories, including: rape, sexual assault and related offences against adults and children; domestic or intimate partner violence; and harassment and stalking.
James McGuire, James McGuire

10. Other Serious Crimes

Abstract
There is evidence that we humans have made use of psychotropic or ‘mind-altering’ substances since prehistory, and some form of such uses appears in virtually every society on Earth. Today, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine are readily obtainable throughout most of the world. Some communities use other substances, such as kava, a type of shrub, the roots of which are brewed on many islands of the Pacific to make a drink that contains several psychoactive ingredients. In the past, indigenous peoples of the Americas extracted mescaline, a hallucinogenic drug believed to produce spiritual experiences, from different kinds of cactus. Archaeologists have found that leaves of the coca plant, the source of cocaine, were used in Peru up to 10,000 years ago (Dillehay et al., 2010). There is even a claim that the Neolithic revolution, the momentous change from nomadic to settled lifestyles and the development of agriculture, was spurred by a desire not to bake bread but to brew beer (Braidwood et al., 1953).
James McGuire, James McGuire

11. Mental Disorder and Crime

Abstract
Many jurisdictions make provision for addressing the particular problems that arise when someone who has committed a criminal offence is also found to be suffering from a mental disorder. While many prisons have mental health units, the general environment of prisons is not designed with the needs of this group in mind. Many countries have therefore built specialised secure hospital units for persons whom it is thought necessary to contain, but who are seen as being in urgent need of treatment for mental health problems in addition to restraint of their criminal conduct. Broadly speaking, there are two major aspects to these arrangements. First, some individuals who have committed offences are judged as not having been fully responsible for their actions when they carried them out.
James McGuire, James McGuire

Offences: Investigation, Evidence and Sentencing

Frontmatter

12. Investigating Offences: Gathering Information and Interviewing

Abstract
Once there has been a complaint that an offence has or may have been committed, the process of gathering information, referred to as an investigation, will typically begin. At its simplest, this will be a matter of speaking with the alleged offender or the person pleading guilty to the offence. Such a case may occur if an individual is caught shoplifting and that person’s details are passed on to the police. Where there is a lack of certainty about the nature of the offence (or indeed whether an offence took place at all), about the identity of the offender (especially if, when located, a suspect denies the offence), and where there may be a need to gather information from other sources (typically suspects, victims, or witnesses), a variety of considerations and issues may arise. These are partly issues of how to elicit information accurately, and partly issues of evidence and how the legal system allows evidence to be gathered. Shepherd (2007) writes: ‘Investigation in the criminal context involves the lawful search for detail enabling reconstruction of an actual or intended illegal act, and of the mental state accompanying it’ (p. 3).
James McGuire, James McGuire

13. Profiling Offenders: Methods and Results

Abstract
From the definition given above, it is clear that the fundamental role of profiling is to help investigators by reducing the possible pool of individuals they need to consider when seeking to identify an offender (in the case of forensic profiling). This is a point that Canter has made repeatedly (e.g. see Canter and Allison, 2000): that the value of profiling is in the practical implications it can have for police investigations, and therefore that its use in that context should influence decisions about what information to include in a profile. Hypothesising the internal state of an individual who might have committed a particular crime is not of enormous investigative value unless we can be sure that this state is permanent – or at least long-lasting – and that it predicts other more identifying factors, such as someone’s profession or location, or other crimes that they may have committed (Duff and Kinderman, 2008).
James McGuire, James McGuire

14. Going to Court: Processes and Decision-Making

Abstract
This chapter provides an overview of the court system, focusing primarily on the English and Welsh systems. Although there are many similarities with other systems, such as those of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Australia, an attempt to cover the whole range of similarities and differences would require a book in itself. Two differences in the Scottish system are worth mentioning, however. First, Scottish courts attach importance to the concept of corroboration: the requirement that at least two sources of evidence support the facts that might lead to the conviction of an individual. (Corroboration in this form is not required under English and Welsh law.) Second, whereas in England and Wales there are two possible verdicts – ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ – in Scotland there are three possible outcomes from a trial: ‘guilty’, ‘not guilty’ and ‘not proven’. While the latter two have the same effect – that the person is acquitted – a ‘not proven’ verdict can be interpreted as suggesting that the person may actually be guilty, but there was insufficient evidence to prove this. Indeed, some other countries have wanted to adopt this third verdict for just that reason, including the US (see Bray, 2005).
James McGuire, James McGuire

15. Considering Evidence: Witnesses, Experts and Juries

Abstract
As was mentioned in Chapter 14, in both the UK and the USA the legal system is referred to as being an ‘adversarial’ system, in which the defence and the prosecution can be thought of as in competition with one another. The role of each side is to present the most compelling case it can, with a view to persuading the jury or the judge that its own portrayal of the case is the best representation of what is most likely to have actually happened. In such a situation, the legal professionals from both sides are able to ask questions of any witnesses and of the defendant (or defendants). Where that questioning is being carried out by what could be construed as ‘the other side’, it is referred to as cross-examination. Doak (2005) wrote: ‘The entire criminal process is designed to culminate in a confrontational showdown between the prosecution and the accused’ (p. 297).
James McGuire, James McGuire

16. Sentencing: Principles and Procedures

Abstract
Archaeological research suggests that the world‘s earliest system of laws, which expressly forbade certain acts and prescribed penalties for them, was the Code of Urukagina, originating from ancient Mesopotamia and dating from around 2,360 BCE. King Urukagina is thought to have been a socially reforming ruler who set out to fight the corruption that had flourished under the ruler who preceded him. Unfortunately there are no extant remains of this code: its existence has been inferred from other materials. Considerably more is known of the Code of Hammurabi, which dates from c. 1,850 BCE in Babylon. (Babylon, like Mesopotamia, was located in what is present-day Iraq.) This code was engraved on an eight-foot-high stele (an upright stone slab) and was placed in public view so that citizens might acquaint themselves with it, though it is thought that few would have been able to read it. Figure 16.1 shows a side view of this almost 4,000-yearold object. (You can see the original in the Louvre Museum, Paris – Room 3 in the Department of Near East Studies, Richelieu Wing, if you are pushed for time.)
James McGuire, James McGuire

17. After Sentencing: Follow-up Services

Abstract
In principle, punishment for criminal behaviour comes to an end (except, potentially, in the case of the whole life sentence imposed for murder in the UK, which is a sentence with no predetermined release date). This is in line with the idea that society requires that individuals are meaningfully punished for their antisocial behaviour, and that meaningful punishment is possible (although the role of punishment as individual and social deterrent and its politicisation is much debated – see Alschuler, 2003). The ‘Where do you stand?’ box on the next page also highlights various viewpoints. Presumably the idea of meaningful punishment is that individuals learn the negative consequences of their actions and will therefore be less likely to act in antisocial ways in the future, thereby reducing crime and protecting the public (see Joyce, 2009).
James McGuire, James McGuire

Forensic Psychology: Activities, Standards and Skills

Frontmatter

18. Professional Roles: Assessing Offenders

Abstract
Assessment of individuals for legal purposes, to inform the decisions that will be made concerning them, is one of the core tasks of forensic psychology. It can occur at a variety of places within an individual’s journey through the system – for example, there may be a pre-trial assessment; or an assessment may be required by a judge prior to sentencing; or convicted prisoners or detained patients may be assessed for allocation decisions, for appraisal of risks and needs, or to review their progress. Within these areas, there are many specific objectives for which assessments might be conducted. Assessment is not therefore something that is done as an end in itself. It is designed to serve a purpose, and will usually result in a report, either verbal or written, prepared for a specified recipient or audience, in order to provide information that will in turn be entered into a decision the recipient is required to make. (Were that not the case, the recipient would be unlikely to have requested or commissioned the report.
James McGuire, James McGuire

19. Professional Roles: Reducing Reoffending

Abstract
Policy and practice in criminal justice are influenced by many kinds of factors. They include the law itself, and the framework it sets for sentencing; the prevailing ethos in society regarding how crime is perceived, usually reflected in dominant media narratives; and the availability of empirical evidence on what effects might be obtained by pursuing different courses of action. There is a view, perhaps fairly cynical, that the last of these is least likely to play a meaningful part. The course of criminal justice and of social attitudes to punishment over time is sometimes likened to a pendulum, swinging between what are thought to be more punitive policies on the one hand, and more liberal ones on the other. This chapter reviews the evidence that is available on how to reduce the likelihood of reoffending amongst those who have been convicted of offences and sentenced by the courts. That evidence poses a major challenge for the view that the best way to reduce the behaviour of ‘known criminals’ is by punishing them more severely, whether by means of longer sentences, more physically demanding prison regimes, or more austere institutional environments.
James McGuire, James McGuire

20. Professional Roles: Ethical Issues in Practice

Abstract
this chapter is concerned with ethics in general, and more specifically with the issue of ethics for the forensic psychologist. now that forensic psychology is a regulated profession, there is a much greater focus on the behaviour of its professionals, especially as they may be working with particularly vulnerable members of society. the content of this chapter will help you consider where your own views and behaviour stand in relation to ethics, and to form a basic model for thinking about dilemmas in practice. at its most basic, ethics is concerned with the process of making choices, be those choices about whether or not to drink Fair Trade tea, or whether a nation should include the death penalty in its legal system.
James McGuire, James McGuire

21. Professional Training, Competence and Expertise

Abstract
In the UK, in order to be able to refer to oneself as a forensic psychologist and to work as a forensic psychologist there are a number of requirements, effectively split between the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The compulsory element is to be registered with the HCPC, but in order to achieve that it is necessary to meet the required academic standards of the BPS and the practice standards of the HCPC. Figure 21.1 outlines the various routes to reaching the point of being able to apply to the HCPC for registration. The first stage is to achieve Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) from the BPS, either by achieving an undergraduate degree in psychology from an accredited BPS course or via a BPS-accredited conversion course. It is worth being aware that the requirement for GBC is a minimum of a lower second-class honours degree, whereas to move on to the next stage of the qualification process you may actually require a minimum of an upper second-class degree. This is because as more people wish to join a field of study universities and courses can be more selective in who they recruit.
James McGuire, James McGuire
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