My first job after university was as a psychologist in Wandsworth prison. After six years on prison landings, I transferred to the Prison Department’s South East Regional Office and subsequently became the Regional Psychologist when, amongst other things, I played a part in securing the future of HMP Grendon Underwood and removing young offenders from HMP Wormwood Scrubs.
As a professional psychologist, I became a founder member of the British Psychological Society‘s Division of Criminological and Legal Psychology (now known as Forensic Psychology), a member of the BPS’s Professional Affairs Board, served on the BPS’s Working Party on the Registration of Psychologists and was one of the people who initiated postgraduate forensic psychology training for psychologists working in prisons.
After nearly 20 years as a psychologist, I moved to the Home Office in Queen Anne’s Gate as an administrator, working on charities, charity law, the voluntary sector and reform of the Charity Commission; new religious movements and the founding of INFORM; scientific procedures on living animals for the first few years of the Animal Procedures Committee (now superseded by the Animals in Science Committee); animal welfare, including the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (a reference to this critique is also here), the regulation of puppy farms and the discontinuation of tail docking; the protection of seals during the phocine distemper outbreak; legislation to improve protection for badgers and their setts; approved probation/bail hostels and the introduction of National Standards; and probation service voluntary sector grants, including the setting up of the Wolvercote Clinic and the Stop It Now! child protection initiative. I was responsible for the introduction of electronic tagging, following which I was appointed an OBE.
I then took charge of the Home Office’s Criminal Policy Strategy Unit and dealt with cross-cutting criminal justice system issues like the Crime Reduction Programme; race equality and race crime, particularly following the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry; violence against women, including representing the UK at EU level; violence against national health service staff, including ambulance crew; computer, internet and high-tech crime, including child abuse and internet fraud; high-profile sex offenders; the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998 in the criminal justice system; the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, information sharing and section 115.
My last job before retirement was as the first Crime Reduction Director (which became known as Home Office Director when the responsibilities were extended beyond crime) in the Government Office for the South East. My main task was to reduce crime across the region’s 84 local authority and five police force areas, but in addition I took on significant responsibilities across the South East in relation to drugs and race equality, including promoting BME professionals in public life (all this was, of course, long before the days of Theresa May’s “hostile environment” at the Home Office); and also the voluntary sector.
During my time as Home Office Director in the South East crime fell in each successive year. When I took up post, the South East sat in third place for crime nationally. After the first year, it had bettered the South West. The following year it bettered the East and remained in the top position so that the South East became the safest part of the UK, including Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Whilst my main work was reducing volume crime, like burglary and car crime, I also became well-known for my work on violence against women, including particularly domestic violence; racial and homophobic crime; distraction burglary; how to reduce the fear of crime; and promoting race equality. When regional British Crime Survey data for domestic violence first became available, the South East was shown as having 296 victims per 10,000 adults – in round figures, twice that of London and three times that of the North East. The following year, this had reduced to 177. A year later it had reduced it further to 116, bringing the South East down to the national average and making a major contribution to a national reduction in domestic violence. High-profile initiatives across the region bringing statistically significant falls for successive years meant that domestic violence had reduced in the South East by around 60%.
I remain passionate about these issues so have put up some of my public utterances on this website although they are very old now. However, sadly these messages are as vital as they always were: like the extreme danger women (and their children) face when they tell their partner that they wish to end a relationship – for that is the trigger for most murders. The world would become a safer place if that single, simple fact were more widely appreciated not only by potential victims, but also by the police, family and friends, professional advisors (like solicitors), the courts and journalists who write about crime.
I now work entirely in a voluntary capacity, including
- Addison Court (a housing association for older people, 2005 – 2019)
- Advisory Panel of INFORM (new religious movements)
- Chit Chat
- Kingsbridge Silver Band
- the John Kempe Society
- Salcombe Harbour Board (2006 – 2022; Deputy Chair 2017 – 2022)
- Suzy Lamplugh Trust (the national personal safety charity; 2000 – 2021)
- Chair of Hastings and St Leonard’s Foreshore Charitable Trust (2006 – 2011)
I write about issues around Salcombe Harbour in my blog on this website.