Division of Forensic Psychology


Notes from the Chair of the DFP – January 2017


Dear DFP Members

I hope you all had a good festive break and are looking forward to a great new year.

I have been active in the role as Chair of DFP since September and busy trying to understand what this means and how the BPS functions.  I feel very honoured to have this role and hope I can do something worthwhile for members of the DFP and wider public good.

I have begun to understand better what the BPS is about.  It strives to do two fundamental things:

  • Develop, Encourage and Support the best standards of practice in Psychological Research and Practice.  It aims to this by developing guidelines for best practice, and qualification, supporting the CPD of the membership (by offering very cost effective seminars, workshops and online resources) and offering a wide variety of services to those working in the field of Psychology.
  • Promote Psychology as a scientific discipline that has a lot to offer society at the social, interpersonal and individual level.  It does this by responding to the Policy, Social Movements and the Media via statements and responding to formal consultations and using social media.

I think at a time when it is argued that ‘popularist’ politics is on the rise, we remain in a stubborn economic slump, and the Justice Reforms never has the time been more acute for promoting our discipline.  We have a large body of evidence and the practical understanding about issues connected to social and legal justice.

I had the pleasure of attending the General Assembly in October.  This is the forum where all the network representatives get together to discuss pressing issues and set the agenda for the following year.  This year there was a big focus on working through the BPS Network Review.

The BPS has evolved over the last 100 years or so to have a membership of around 50, 000 and 142 different groups/divisions (referred to as networks).  This has been dynamic and driven by the desire from the society’s members to improve the application of Psychology in all walks of life.  As a Charity we need to be accountable for how we spend funds and transparent in our goals.  What strikes me talking to colleagues in the BPS is the passion and diversity of ideas.  Active members are working on the challenge of how best to harness these attributes.

There is a large ‘sleeping membership’ (of which I admit I was one) and we need to engage everyone more.  I often hear “I don’t know what the BPS is for and what it does for me”, indeed I have said it myself. I have noticed that we stand in a time where Psychology could make an invaluable contribution to contemporary social and political issues, and what we need is an organisation that has a loud voice in how policy at all levels is developed.  I am personally re-invigorated and can see the value of the BPS as a voice of evidence and excellent practice. A place that provides information and learning for practitioners and academics.  But there is a lot of work to be done to grasp this unique opportunity to make a difference and place Psychology as a ‘go to’ discipline at many levels in society.

As you can tell there is a real drive to modernise the society to ensure it is relevant to members and stakeholders.  I urge you, to get more involved in the workings of the society to help it become a supportive and exciting organisation to belong to.


We have issued a membership survey and mapping process. The purpose is to try and understand the membership of the DFP, it’s demographic, skills and needs.  This will help me and the committee work on a strategic plan for the next three years that will focus on what is meaningful and useful for the membership.  Please take the time to fill it in, please be honest, you pay your fees and therefore it is important you have a stake in how we move forward.

The DFP Committee met in December to work on where we go next. Using the link below (you will need to log in before downloading)  where you will find the strategic plan and summary outlining the projects we will be scoping over the next couple of months. 

DFP Strategic Plan

Essentially these focus on:

  • Developing support to members and encouraging wider participation beyond the committees.
  • Developing and publishing knowledge on key issues
  • Promoting Forensic Psychology in Policy making particularly around the Justice Reform agenda

Please take five minutes to scan through the strategic plan.  There are several projects which we would appreciate wider support to complete and would be grateful for anything you can offer, no matter how limited.  So if you have any knowledge or experience that is relevant to these topics we would be delighted to hear from you.

The DFP Committee are all volunteers, we do nearly all of the work in our own time, that is why I am proud to list some of the achievements over the last 18 months:

1.         Professional Workshops on best practice with Self Harm and Suicide - these can be repeated.

2.         Annual Conferenc

3.         Development of situation report and 2-day work shop on Trauma (this to be repeated in NI soon)

4.         Development of a survey issued in December 16.

5.         Revised the Committee Structure set up strategic plan

6.         Responded to numerous public Consultations

7.         Published a position paper on brain injury in young adults

8.         Published book on Forensic Psychological Practice in Community Settings.

9.         Coordination of book reviews (where reviewers get to keep the books

10.       DFP Committee members have also been contributing to lots of other work streams in the wider BPS these include:

            *           Qualifications Board and revisions to DFP Diploma

            *           Development of Test Standards for Forensic Settings

            *           Ethics Committee

            *           Professional Practice Board

            *           Research Board

Current business:

As most of you will know either from direct experience or via the media, Prisons have been suffering a difficult time in terms of an increase in violence, disruption and a change in substance misuse.  For those Psychologists working in this environment there are daily challenges in working with clients and maintaining their personal wellbeing and resilience.

The Committee wants to spend some time focussing on these issues and are scoping a project to look at this and what Psychology can offer in this environment.

We have struggled over the last year or so to get contributions to the Forensic Update (FU) and are looking at ways to make this easier for members to get publications more widely.

We will be setting up a publications support function, where a group of academics will offer advice and guidance to novices in the publications arena.

We want the FU to be a dynamic source of information that presents both good quality research, but also provides an opportunity for practitioners to offer comment on their experiences and as a forum for debate.

So if you have anything you want to say we could start a ‘comments’ page and we are interested in pieces that describe the experience of being a practitioner and what issues are faced on a day to day basis.

We hope to re-issue the strategic plan after the March Committee meeting when all the upcoming projects have been fully scoped.  I really would put out a plea for help in bringing some of these projects into being.

Elizabeth Bird 

DFP Chair


Fri, 27/01/2017 - 16:02


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