Updates from the Chairman,
Professor John Gunn

This article appears in our latest newsletter which can be downloaded here.

We live in turbulent times. A pandemic that has killed 178,000 of our citizens, climate change that seems relentless with nobody able or willing to change course, a savage, monstrous war in Ukraine, 5 Prime Ministers in four years, 4 finance ministers in as many months, massive national debt and a government that is creating economic chaos and is completely out of its depth, all capped by the passing of our much loved and extraordinary Queen who brought so much stability. It must seem to young people that the future is bleak and without hope. Certainly politics as usual doesn’t seem to be succeeding. It is time for those of us who believe in science to turn to finding solutions that can press the reset button. Science can bring tested information, new ideas and hope, science gives us choices, science gives us power.
Does any of this turbulence affect the worlds of criminal justice and mental health? Of course it does but perhaps we should try to ignore the noise as far as possible and remember that skilled research will continue to be fruitful. We remain optimistic that in the long run public and politicians will acknowledge that science has a great deal to offer the never-ending fight against crime. This newsletter has a particular theme; it is focused on women in the justice system. Although there is a national female offender strategy, we are still far from optimal services for women. We would welcome your comments on this – and, indeed about the newsletter and our activities in general.

Our finances do not allow us to provide the research grants we would like to provide but we were successful a couple of years ago in obtaining £1000 from a finance company, St. James’s place, which we made available for a systematic literature review on Multiple homicide followed by suicide. The review was conducted by Dr Alexis Theodorou of the West London NHS Trust and the value of Crime in Mind support went beyond the immediate finding. His review was the focus of a members only webinar in December 2021, attended by invited experts from around the world: Professor Adam Lankford, University of Alabama, USA; Professor Riittakerttu Kaltalia-Heino, Tampere University, Finland; Dr Sandra Flynn, University of Manchester, UK; Dr Frank Farnham, Clinical Lead for the National Stalking Clinic, UK. Their input, given freely, was invaluable and way beyond the reach of many young researchers. The review, registered with PROSPERO (www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO), is now being prepared for publication. We are now building on this success to offer two more small grants for early researchers.

Recent public webinars have included: Recovery in Forensic Mental Health: given by Professor Lindsay Thomson and colleagues from Edinburgh University and the Forensic Mental Health Managed Care Network in Scotland. Mental Health Research in Prisons: given by Rachel Daly of Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Andrew Forrester of Cardiff University, Huw Stone Specialist Member of the Parole Board, Pamela Taylor, Cardiff University and the late Tim Kirkpatrick, Manchester University; and Research into supporting those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in the Justice System, given by Heidi Hales, North West London Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Alexandra Lewis, Clinical adviser to the Children & Young Person’s Health & Justice workstream at NHS England & NHS Improvement and Alice Siberry, Specialist Neurodiversity Criminal Justice Consultant for the charity Creased Puddle.

Recently we took a significant step towards being a membership society. We hope that professionals in the criminal justice system and in the health service who have an interest in our work will join us by paying a small annual subscription. If enough people are interested this will give us a small but steady income which we hope to build on and will mean that we have a group of people who relate to one another, who are more active in this field and may provide a network of personal expertise and support for research as well as help fund it. Members will have their own website. We hope they will contribute to our newsletter. And they will have free places at our seminars and webinars. Anybody who wishes to join as a member should contact our administrator Dave Long at administrator@crimeinmind.co.uk.

The call for applications for support for people who want to build research skills and the deadline for applications closed on 30th November 2022.

Up to £1000 will be offered to each of two successful applicants/applicant groups for preliminary or preparatory work to inform substantive research into a topic relevant to forensic mental health service provision.

In addition to financial support, Crime in Mind will support dissemination and discussion of findings, for example through webinars and expert commentaries on the completed project.

We will inform of successful applicants in our next newsletter.