Forensic Psychology Research

Forensic Psychology Research

The forensic psychology group seeks to conduct work that enhances our understanding of why people commit crime and that contributes to the successful functioning of the criminal justice system at all levels with both offenders and victims of crime, including criminal investigations, the courts, prison, probation and forensic healthcare services.

Members of the group

Dr Chrisa Pornari

Prof Craig Jackson

Dr Elle Boag

Dr Helen Wyler


The Crime Linkage International NetworK (C-LINK)

Dr Jessica Woodhams (UK), Dr Matt Tonkin (UK), Dr Amy Burrell (UK), Dr Craig Bennell (Canada), Brigadier Gérard Labuschagne (South Africa), Tom Pakkanen (Finland), Dr Gabrielle Salfati (US), Prof Pekka Santtila (Finland), Dr Jasper van der Kemp (The Netherlands), Jan Winter (Belgium/The Netherlands)

Crime is one of the most significant problems facing our society today, and a disproportionate amount of the costs imposed by crime can be attributed to a minority of prolific serial offenders. For example, 6 - 10% of offenders are reported to be responsible for over half of all crime in the United States and the United Kingdom, with the most prolific 5% of offenders estimated to cost the UK economy £6 – 10 billion per year. Serial offenders are, therefore, a significant priority for law enforcement agencies and criminal justice practitioners around the world.

Crime linkage is a new and innovative form of behavioural analysis that has the potential to significantly improve the ability of law enforcement agencies to catch and convict prolific serial offenders. It does this by identifying similarities and differences in crime scene behaviour that allows multiple crimes to be linked to the same offender, which can increase the quantity and quality of evidence available with which to prosecute offenders. While used extensively around the world, it is vital that the validity of crime linkage is tested, otherwise there is a real risk that police investigations will be misled and serial offenders will continue to commit crime un-apprehended.

Aim of research

This project brings together an international network of academics and practitioners in order to significantly enhance the practice of crime linkage. The ultimate aim of this project is to improve the ability of law enforcement agencies around the world to catch and convict prolific violent and sexual offenders.

Method of research

A sample of rape, sexual assault and sexual homicide crimes are being gathered from around the world, recording a variety or behavioural, location and time information about each offence. A variety of complex statistical techniques will be applied to these data in order to test the underlying assumptions of crime linkage.

Anticipated findings, outcomes and applications of the research

The data collection and analysis are currently ongoing. Once completed, the findings will provide the most reliable and comprehensive test of crime linkage ever conducted. These findings will have far-reaching implications for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers, thereby helping to shape the future of crime linkage research and practice. This includes evidence-based recommendations regarding how and when crime linkage should be used to assist criminal investigations, which will be relevant to law enforcement agencies around the world. Furthermore, the study will produce high-quality research publications that, for the first time ever, provide an insight into the most reliable methods of conducting crime linkage research.

Get more information on the C-LINK project