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 as a Senior Lecturer. She was promoted to Reader in 2016 and to Professor of Forensic Psychology in 2018. She is the Director of the Centre for Applied Psychology and and co-Director of the Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing. She also leads a theme within the Institute for Global Innovation's Challenge Theme of 21st Century Transnational Crime.

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, West Midlands Police and the Scottish Crown Office, and has advised international police forces on the development of their crime linkage capability. She has conducted operational research for the Home Office, 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 £3.3 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.


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:

  • Beverly Powis (co-supervised with Louise Dixon and Darren Bishopp)
  • Shoshana Gander-Zaucker (co-supervised with Michael Larkin and John Rose)

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, and identifying false allegations. 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 £3.3 M in research grants and contracts.

Selected research grants and contracts

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

2016: Embedding CPS Lawyers in Police Public Protection Units - an evaluation of the impact on efficiency and quality of investigations. College of Policing. Joint Principal Investigator, £50k.

2016: Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Data Retention Project. Funded by the National Police Chief’s Council and ESRC IAA. Principal Investigator, £34k.

2015: Police Knowledge Fund Award for the Better Policing Collaborative. College of Policing, the Home Office and HEFCE. Lead for Multiple Research Work Packages, £1.1M. 

2014: Research, Development and Training in Evidence-Based Policing. Co-I and Lead of Research Work Package, £750k.

2012: C-LINK (Crime Linkage International NetworK), Leverhulme Trust, £79k

Other activities

  • Director of the Centre for Applied Psychology
  • Co-Director of the Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing
  • Co-organiser of the Academic Advisory Group
  • Associate Editor for Journal of Sexual Aggression
  • Editorial Board Member for Legal and Criminological Psychology


Journal Articles since 2016

    1. Duran, F., Bishopp, D., & Woodhams, J. (in press). Relationships between psychological contract violation, stress and wellbeing in firefighters. International Journal of Workplace Health Management.
    2. Duran, F., Woodhams, J., & Bishopp, D. (in press). An interview study of the experiences of police officers in regard to psychological contract and wellbeing. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology.
    3. Kloess, J.A., Woodhams, J., Whittle, H., Grant, T., & Hamilton-Giachritis, C.E. (in press). The challenges of identifying and classifying footage of child sexual abuse. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment.
    4. Stephenson, Z., Woodhams, J., & Harkins, L. (in press). The sequencing of interventions with offenders: views of offender managers and supervisors. Journal of Forensic Practice.
    5. Woodhams, J., Tonkin, M., Burrell, A., et al. (2019).  Can crimes be linked by modus operandi? An ecologically valid test of the principles underpinning crime linkage. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 24, 123-140.  
    6. Da Silva, T., Woodhams, J., & Harkins, L. (2018). “An adventure that went wrong”. Reasons given by convicted perpetrators of multiple perpetrator rape for their involvement in the offence. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47, 443-456.
    7. Duran, F., Woodhams, J., & Bishopp, D. (2018). An interview study of the experiences of firefighters in regard to the psychological contract, stressors, and well-being. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 30, 203-226.
    8. Stephenson, Z., Woodhams, J., & Harkins, L. (2017). The sequencing and delivery of interventions: Views of Imprisoned for Public Protection (IPP) prisoners in the UK. Journal of Forensic Psychology: Research and Practice, 17, 275-294.
    9. 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, 50, 19-28.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.

Books and Book Chapters since 2016

  1. Davies, K., Woodhams, J., & Rainbow, L. (2018).  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.
  2. Woodhams, J., & Tonkin, M. (2017). Offender profiling and crime linkage.  In G. Davies & A. R. Beech (Eds.), Forensic psychology (3rd ed). Chichester, UK: Wiley.

View all publications in research portal


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