Professor Jessica Woodhams

Professor Jessica Woodhams

School of Psychology
Director of the Centre for Applied Psychology
Professor of Forensic Psychology

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Jessica is a chartered psychologist and an HCPC registered forensic psychologist. Her primary areas of research are policing and sexual offending. She is the Director of the Centre for Applied Psychology, founder of the international academic-practitioner C-LINK network (Crime Linkage International NetworK), and Co-Director of the Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing at the University. 


  • 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 where she specialised in the analysis of stranger sex offences and homicides. Following this, she took up the post of Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the University of Leicester where she worked for approximately six years and was the Course Leader of two distance-learning Masters courses in forensic psychology. Whilst working full-time she studied for her PhD part-time. The focus of her PhD reflected her previous employment as a crime analyst and investigated whether rape series committed by juvenile sex offenders could be accurately identified using similarity in modus operandi. In 2008 she moved to the University of Gloucestershire and took up the post of Principal Lecturer in Forensic Psychology. There she designed and set up two new courses in forensic psychology. In 2010, she joined the Centre for Forensic and Criminological Psychology at the University of Birmingham, where she is currently Reader in Forensic Psychology.

Since commencing her career in academia in 2002, Jessica has continued to stay involved in case work and consultancy. She has been consulted on high profile cases for the London Metropolitan Police and the Scottish Crown Office. She has conducted operational research for several UK police forces and agencies, including West Midlands Police, Norfolk Constabulary and Suffolk Constabulary, the London Metropolitan Police, and the National Crime Agency, and numerous overseas police forces.  She has attracted more than £2.6M 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 other law enforcement agencies.


Jessica is the module leader for an undergraduate Forensic Psychology module. She supervises several UG projects per year and she supervises several PhD students. She also provides workshops on the postgraduate professional doctorate courses in forensic psychology and forensic clinical psychology.

Postgraduate supervision

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

Current PhD students:

  • Jessica Eaton
  • Kari Davies
  • Fazeelat Duran (co-supervised with Darren Bishopp)
  • Kamonchanok Montasevee (co-supervised with Louise Dixon and Darren Bishopp)
  • Beverly Powis (co-supervised with Louise Dixon and Darren Bishopp)
  • Shoshana Gander-Zaucker (co-supervised with Michael Larkin and John Rose)

Completed PhD Supervision:

  • Teresa da Silva
  • Mark Kells
  • Zoe Stephenson
  • Matthew Tonkin
  • Shannon Vettor
  • Chelsea Slater
  • Paul Dawson 


Research Interests

Investigative Psychology
Assisting police decision-making, including crime linkage (behavioural linking of crimes) and offender prioritisation, offender profiling, and identifying false allegations. She also evaluates police interventions in terms of effectiveness, as well as process evaluations.

Sexual and Serial Offending
Sexual offending (particularly offences committed by strangers, juveniles and groups), modus operandi behaviour, victim coping strategies, serial offending (including robbery, burglary and sexual offences).

Research Funding

Jessica has attracted more than £2.6M in research grants and contracts.

Selected research grants


Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Data Retention Project
National Police Chief’s Council and ESRC IAA


Police Knowledge Fund Award for the Better Policing Collaborative.  
College of Policing, the Home Office and HEFCE,
Lead or Joint Lead for Multiple Research Work Packages


Research, Development and Training in Evidence-Based Policing.
Co-I and Lead of Research Work Package

Provision to evaluate a community situated domestic violence perpetrator programme.
Birmingham City Council

College of Policing Innovation Fund Grant
Co-I and Lead for University of Birmingham


C-LINK (Crime Linkage International NetworK)
Leverhulme Trust

Other activities

  • Director of the Centre for Applied Psychology
  • Co-Director of the Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing
  • Impact Lead for the School of Psychology
  • Associate Editor for Journal of Sexual Aggression.
  • Editorial Board Member for Legal and Criminological Psychology.


Journal Articles 2014-Current

  1. Kloess, J.A., Woodhams, J., Whittle, H., Grant, T., & Hamilton-Giachritsis, C.E. (in press). The challenges of identifying and classifying child sexual abuse material. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment.

  2. Da Silva, T., Woodhams, J., & Harkins, L. (in press). “An adventure that went wrong”. Reasons given by convicted perpetrators of multiple perpetrator rape for their involvement in the offence. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

  3. Tonkin, M., Pakkanen, T., Siren, J., Bennell, C., Woodhams, J. et al. (2017). Using offender crime scene behaviour to link sexual assaults: A comparison of three statistical approaches. Journal of Criminal Justice.
  4. Tonkin, M., & Woodhams, J. (2017). The feasibility of using crime scene behaviour to detect versatile serial offenders: An empirical test of behavioural consistency, distinctiveness and discrimination accuracy. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 22, 99-115.
  5. Sturgess, D., Woodhams, J., & Tonkin, M. (2016). Treatment engagement from the perspective of the offender: reasons for non-completion and completion of treatment - a systematic review. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 60, 1873-1896.
  6. Slater, C., Woodhams, J., & Hamilton-Giachritsis, C. (2015). Testing the assumptions of crime linkage with stranger sex offenses: A more ecologically-valid study.  Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 30, 261-273.
  7. Da Silva, T., Woodhams, J., & Harkins, L. (2015). Multiple perpetrator rape: A critical review of existing explanatory theories. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 25, 150-158.
  8. Geraghty, K.A., & Woodhams, J. (2015). The predictive validity of risk assessment tools for female offenders: A systematic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 21, 25-38.
  9. Stephenson, Z., Woodhams, J., & Cooke, C. (2014). Sex differences in predictors of violent and non-violent juvenile offending. Aggressive Behavior, 40, 165-177.
  10. Bennell, C., Mugford, R., Ellingwood, E., & Woodhams, J. (2014). Linking crimes using behavioural cues: Current levels of linking accuracy and strategies for moving forward. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 11, 29-56.
  11. Da Silva, T., Woodhams, J., & Harkins, L. (2014). Heterogeneity in multiple perpetrator rapes: A national comparison of lone, duo and 3+ perpetrator rapes. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 26, 503-522.
  12. Sleath, E., & Woodhams, J. (2014). Expectations about victim and offender behaviour during stranger rape. Psychology, Crime and Law, 20, 798-820.
  13. Slater, C., Woodhams, J., & Hamilton-Giachritsis, C. (2014). Can serial rapists be distinguished from one-off rapists? Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 32, 220-239.

Books and Book Chapters 2014-Present

  1. Woodhams, J., & Tonkin, M. (in press). Offender profiling and crime linkage.  In G. Davies & A. R. Beech (Eds.), Forensic psychology (3rd ed). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
  2. Davies, K., Woodhams, J., & Rainbow, L. (in press).  Crime linkage and sexual homicide. In J. Proulx, E. Beauregard, A. Carter, A. Mokros, R. Darjee & J. James (Eds). International handbook of sexual homicide studies.  Routledge.
  3. Woodhams, J., & Tonkin, M. (2015). Offender profiling and crime linkage.  In G. Davies & A. R. Beech (Eds.), Forensic psychology (2nd ed). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
  4. Woodhams, J., & Bennell, C. (2014) (Eds.). Crime linkage: Theory, research and practice. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.
  5. Vettor, S., Beech, A.R., & Woodhams, J. (2014). Rapists and sexual murderers: combined pathways to offending.  In J. Proulx, E. Beauregard, P. Lussier, & B. Leclerc (Eds.), Pathways to sexual aggression. Routledge.
  6. Bennell, C., Woodhams, J., & Mugford, R. (2014). Linkage analysis for crime. In G.J.N. Bruinsma & D.L. Weisburd (Eds.), Encyclopaedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp. 2947-2953). New York, NY: Springer.


Policing and sexual offending