Serco Psychologists steal the show at the UK Forensic Psychology Conference
In October 2021, twelve forensic psychologists from across Serco’s UK prisons spoke at the UK Division of Forensic Psychology Conference.
The UK Division of Forensic Psychology are a branch within the British Psychological Society (BPS) which acts as the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK.
The conference itself was held remotely and featured Forensic Psychologists from across the UK prison estate giving presentations on key findings and best practice across the psychology profession.
All twelve of Serco’s forensic psychologists gave presentations on a variety of different subjects. Amongst them, Sarah Holland from HMP Dovegate spoke about the prison officers’ use of physical and verbal de-escalation techniques on disruptive prisoners, whilst Elizabeth Deehan from HMP Lowdham Grange gave a presentation the personality traits and behaviour of people with somnophilic interests.
The Serco Psychologists also looked at subjects relating to prisons dealing with COVID-19, with Charlotte Hodgkinson from HMP Lowdham Grange giving a presentation on exploring the psychological impact of quarantine in prisons.
Staff burnout was also a key topic with Ellen Green from HMP Dovegate giving an insightful presentation on the impact of perceived dangerousness on staff burnout, and Kate Marsh from HMP Thameside giving a presentation titled “The Impact of Working in Different Prison Areas on Prison Staff Burnout”.
Another key theme from the conference was the subject of Social Responsibility Units (SRUs), which are areas of the prison aimed at reducing prisoner violence and anti-social behaviour through a combination of group workshops, therapy and individual sessions leading to a safer environment for both prisoners and staff.
An exciting part of the conference was that Serco Psychologists presented an hour-long symposium on the subject of our Social Responsibility Units (SRUs) (developed in-house and only run in Serco prisons). These are areas of the prison aimed at reducing prisoner violence and anti-social behaviour through a combination of group workshops, therapy and individual sessions leading to a safer environment for both prisoners and staff. This symposium covered four presentations on research demonstrating the success and benefits of SRUs. As part of this, Natalie Parrett, Serco’s Head of Psychological Services gave an in-depth presentation on SRUs titled “Evaluation of the Good Lives Model for SRUs, factors contributing to desistance, pro-social environments and early evaluation”, whilst Vicky Wakefield’s (HMP Ashfield) presentation asked the question, “Is there a change in institutional behaviour following time on a Social Responsibility Unit?
Natalie spoke about the conference reflecting on the presentations she and her colleagues gave, saying:
“I am so proud of all the work that Serco Psychologists do regarding research in our prisons. There is a very practical element to this; ensuring that the working practice in prisons is informed by up-to-date knowledge and evidence, but also that we continue to innovate in all aspects of prison and evidence the success in our innovations. However, sharing the research with the wider Forensic Psychology community is something that I am even more proud of. It not only will assist in the wider progress of the Forensic Psychology profession, but also increases Serco’s positive reputation and standing in the Forensic Psychology world. It is not easy to have research accepted for presentation at the DFP conference; the process of application, review and submission is starting next month in readiness for the June 2022 conference, we are already working hard on plans for what we can bring!”