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Forensic psychology: the basics (Sandie Taylor)

Sandie Taylor

Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group (2015)

ISBN: 978-1-138-02160-0

Sandie Taylor has 20 years of experience teaching Forensic, Criminological and Investigative Psychology at both graduate and undergraduate level at the University of Glamorgan (University of South Wales) (1992-6), University of West London (1999-2004) and Bath Spa University (2004-12). She also taught Forensic Psychology on the MSc Applied Psychology Degree at the University of South Wales/Glamorgan (1996-7) and the Forensic Psychology components on the MA (Econ) Criminology Degree at Cardiff University (1991-2). Sandie Taylor’s consultancy includes work on the Addictions Unit on behalf of the South Glamorgan Probation Service. Her latest book published this year is ‘Crime and Criminality: A Multidisciplinary Approach’ by Routledge and is highly praised by Professor Ray Bull.

Forensic Psychology: The Basics provides an excellent overview of the central themes in this specialised field. It combines discussion of theory with information about the roles of professional forensic psychologists and concentrates on the major issues of police psychology, crime and delinquency, victimology and victim services, legal psychology and correctional psychology.

By way of introduction, Taylor, explains that the word ‘forensic’ originates from the Latin ‘forensis’, meaning ‘of the forum’. Apparently ancient Rome saw the city law courts being held within the forum. Obviously a multi-use facility of its day. Since then forensic in the modern day has progressed to include scientific principles and practices pertaining to legal processes. The book begins with a very good but brief preamble on the history of forensic psychology noting key figures and their important contributions and developments. The author also includes those important ethical principles with clear explanations and highlights areas where forensic psychologists can assist other professional bodies and agencies. Taylor stresses to anyone following the career path of forensic psychologist that it must be based on sound empirical research and carried out within the ethical standards as laid down by the British Psychological Society.

Each section is supported with sensible case studies applicable to the chapter subject matter and there are relevant recommendations for further reading. Taylor breaks down particular areas of interest and makes it simple to understand. For instance, she explains the integrated approaches to criminal behaviour as a triangulated one, incorporating different levels of application. This multileveled strategy may in turn be seen to better understand the causes of criminality but more importantly set the scene in which criminal behaviour could be reduced. Taylor finishes with a chapter on responding to present day challenges and points out that the work of a forensic psychologist ‘is not carved in stone’, as developments in psychology and advancements in technology are not static. Good news for anyone thinking of pursuing the OU’s new BSc(Hons) Forensic Psychology degree!

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