Professor Jessica Woodhams

Professor Jessica Woodhams

School of Psychology
Professor of Forensic Psychology
Head of Research

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Jessica is a chartered psychologist and an HCPC registered forensic psychologist. She is the School of Psychology’s Head of Research. Her primary areas of research are policing and sexual offending and much of her research is co-produced with practitioners from UK and international policing and law enforcement. She is the founder of the international academic-practitioner C-LINK network (Crime Linkage International NetworK), Co-Director of the Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing at the University, and the lead of two work streams within the Institute for Global Innovation’s theme of 21st Century Transnational Crime.


  • PhD (Leicester), ‘Juvenile sex offending: An investigative perspective’.
  • M.Sc. Forensic Psychology (Kent)
  • B.Sc. (Hons) Psychology (Southampton)


Jessica began her career in forensic psychology as a crime analyst for the London Metropolitan Police. Following this, she worked at two other universities before arriving at the University of Birmingham in 2010 as a senior lecturer. She was promoted to Reader in 2016 and to Professor of Forensic Psychology in 2018. While at the University she has held and continues to hold several leadership roles. She was the Director of the Centre for Applied Psychology from 2017-2020 and she is currently the School’s Head of Research. She is the Co-Director for the Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing. She also leads two work steams within the Institute for Global Innovation's Challenge Theme of 21st Century Transnational Crime.

Jessica works closely with practitioners in her research and since becoming an academic has continued to stay involved in case work and consultancy. She has been consulted on high profile cases for the London Metropolitan Police, West Midlands Police and the Scottish Crown Office, and has advised international police forces on the development of their crime linkage capability. She conducts operational research for the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the College of Policing, the National Police Chief’s Council, UK police forces and agencies and numerous overseas police forces. She has attracted more than £5 million in grants and contracts for her research.

In 2013, following the award of the Leverhulme International Networks grant, she founded C-LINK (Crime Linkage International NetworK), an international network for practitioners and researchers with a professional interest in the behavioural linking of crimes. Since 2015, she has co-hosted an academic advisory group for police and law enforcement. She is a member of the Metropolitan Police’s Research Ethics Committee.


Jessica gives lectures and workshops on our undergraduate Psychology programme and on our professional doctorate degrees. She supervises the research of trainees on our professional doctorates and supervises several PhD students at any one time.

Postgraduate supervision

Jessica has supervised more than 100 MSc students to date and 19 ForenPsyD/ClinPsyD students.

Current PhD students:

  • Shoshana Gander-Zaucker
  • Thomas Klaus
  • Manuela Mihauic
  • Prachi Shah

Completed PhD Supervision:

  • Kari Davies
  • Fazeelat Duran (co-supervised with Darren Bishopp)
  • Kamonchanok Montasevee (co-supervised with Louise Dixon and Darren Bishopp
  • Teresa da Silva
  • Mark Kells
  • Zoe Stephenson
  • Matthew Tonkin
  • Shannon Vettor
  • Chelsea Slater
  • Paul Dawson 


Research Interests

Investigative Psychology
Informing police decision-making and developing decision-support, including crime linkage (behavioural linking of crimes), suspect prioritisation, classification of IIOC, offender profiling. She also evaluates police interventions in terms of effectiveness, as well as conducting process evaluations.

Sexual and Serial Offending
Sexual offending (particularly offences committed by strangers, juveniles and groups, as well as Internet-facilitated child sexual abuse), modus operandi, victim behaviour, rape myths and stereotypes, serial offending (including robbery, burglary and sexual offences).

Wellbeing of Criminal Justice Professionals
Occupational stress, the effect of exposure to other people’s traumatic experiences, coping strategies used by professionals.

Research Funding

Jessica has attracted more than £5M in research grants and contracts.

Selected research grants and contracts

2020 & 2021: Internet child sexual offending. Principal Investigator, £1.74M

2021: Investigating the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on stranger sex offender behaviour and victim vulnerability. Principal Investigator, £295k

2019: Evaluation of crime linkage processes in Switzerland. Co-Investigator, £57k

2019: Independent Evaluation of Policing Interventions tackling Vulnerability and/or Violent Crime. Co-investigator and Lot 4 Lead, £668k

2017 & 2019Academic Advisory Group. Principal Investigator, £30k

Other activities

  • Co-Director of the Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing
  • Co-organiser of the Academic Advisory Group
  • Member of the Metropolitan Police’s Research Ethics Committee
  • Editorial Board Member for Legal and Criminological Psychology


Recent publications


Woodhams, J & Duran, F 2024, 'A model for secondary traumatic stress following workplace exposure to traumatic material in analytical staff', Communications Psychology, vol. 2, 13.

Faghel-Soubeyrand, S, Ramon, M, Bamps, E, Zoia, M, Woodhams, J, Richoz, A-R, Caldara, R, Gosselin, F & Charest, I 2024, 'Decoding face recognition abilities in the human brain', PNAS nexus.

Duran, F & Woodhams, J 2023, 'Associations between individual cognitive factors, mode of exposure and depression symptoms in practitioners working with aversive crime material', European Journal of Psychotraumatology, vol. 14, no. 2, 2264612.

Duran, F & Woodhams, J 2022, 'Impact of the current pandemic on intelligence and analytical professionals working in police and law enforcement organisations', Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy .

Duran, F & Woodhams, J 2022, 'Impact of traumatic material on professionals in analytical and secondary investigative roles working in criminal justice settings: a qualitative approach', Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, vol. 2022, pp. 1-14.

Woodhams, J, Davies, K, Galambos, S & Webb, M 2021, 'A descriptive analysis of the temporal and geographical proximities seen within UK series of sex offenses', Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 706-715.

Woodhams, J, Kloess, J, Jose, B & Hamilton-Giachritsis, C 2021, 'Characteristics and behaviors of anonymous users of dark web platforms suspected of child sexual offenses', Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, 623668.

Faghel-Soubeyrand, S, Kloess, J, Gosselin, F, Charest, I & Woodhams, J 2021, 'Diagnostic features for human categorisation of adult and child faces', Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, 775338.

Bennell, C, Mugford, R, Woodhams, J, Beauregard, E & Blaskovits, B 2021, 'Linking serial sex offences using standard, iterative, and multiple classification trees', Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 691–705.

Commissioned report

Burrell, A, Woodhams, J, Gregory, P & Robinson, E 2023, Spiking: Prevalence and Motivation.

Davies, K, Woodhams, J, Abramovaite, J, Evans, E, Banerjee, A & Bandyopadhyay, S 2021, Evaluation of the High Harm Perpetrator Unit: Full technical report. Vulnerability and violent crime programme, College of Policing, London. <>

Woodhams, J, Evans, E, Davies, K, Hardiman, M, Abramovaite, J, Banerjee, A, Bandyopadhyay, S, Moreton, C & Forster, O 2021, Evaluation of using the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment (SARA) v3 and the Stalking Assessment and Management (SAM) tools to assess and manage risk: Full technical report. Vulnerability and violent crime programme, College of Policing, London. <>

Powis, B, Dixon, L & Woodhams, J 2021, Exploring the nature of extremism in three prisons: findings from qualitative research. Ministry of Justice Analytical Series, Ministry of Justice (UK). <>


Clements, AJ, Woodhams, J, Young, JK & Duran, F 2023, 'Editorial: The wellbeing of criminal justice personnel', Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 14, 1245541.

Review article

Rockowitz, S, Wagner, K, Cooper, R, Stevens, L, Davies, K, Woodhams, J, Kanja, W & Flowe, HD 2024, 'A Systematic Review of Criminal Justice Initiatives to Strengthen the Criminal Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Violence in East Africa', Trauma, Violence and Abuse, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 813-827.

View all publications in research portal


Policing and sexual offending