Forensic psychologists use psychology to analyse criminal behaviour and work with offenders to modify future behaviour.
This page has information on the role of a forensic psychologist. There is also links to further information.
You may also be called to give expert evidence in court and comment on the reliability of eyewitness testimony. Most of your work will be done in association with the police, probation services, prisons and young offender institutions, trying to understand the psychological problems leading to criminal behaviour and looking for ways to prevent it.
You’ll work with offenders, victims, criminal and civil justice staff and managers. You’ll also undertake risk assessments with offenders, in particular sex offenders with a focus on reducing the risk of re-offending. You may become involved in child protection work with social services.
Your work may include:
- piloting and implementing new treatment programmes
- 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
Where will I work?
The largest employer of forensic psychologists is the prison service. However, forensic psychologists are increasingly working with a wide range of agencies:
- academic institutions
- prison services
- the NHS
- probation services
- police services
- social services
Want to learn more?
- Find information on the entry requirements for forensic psychology
- Find information on training and development in forensic psychology
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
Most jobs in the NHS are covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales. This pay system covers all staff except doctors, dentists and the most senior managers.
While training, counselling psychologists will be paid at band 6 and after completing their training, they will be paid at band 7. Psychologists in the NHS will usually work standard hours of 37.5 per week. Terms and conditions can vary for employers outside of the NHS.
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
Once you have qualified as a psychologist, there are a wide range of opportunities. You could apply for more senior positions e.g. head of a psychology service or consultant psychologist. As psychology relies heavily on research, you could contribute to the development of the profession through research work and teaching. You could apply for a trainee high intensity therapist position, enabling you to work under the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies initiative (IAPT).
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
In February 2017, there were 22,554 practitioner psychologists registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
There are over 2,000 forensic psychologists in the UK.
Most NHS organisations advertise their job and apprenticeship vacancies on NHS Jobs, including those who run NHS services. Some advertise on their own websites. You can find a list of NHS organisations at NHS Choices.
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the values of the NHS Constitution apply in your everyday work. The same will be true if you are applying for a university course funded by the NHS.
- Further information Expand / Collapse