biography

Iam from a farming background originally and grew up as one of four children in a Northern mill-town. I attended state schools in Manchester and travelled widely living in Central America and Africa. We lived in some of the world’s developing countries that are now the most affected by climate change.

I left school at 16yrs, and trained to be a beautician working in department store salons in East Anglia. I married at 20yrs and after two children did an Access course followed by a first class degree in Psychology at Middlesex Polytechnic. The first person in my family to get a degree, I went to Cambridge University on a post-graduate scholarship and did an M.Phil and a PhD in the Law Faculty. This was no ivory tower PhD as I spent a year doing fieldwork with the Metropolitan police; it gave me a fantastic grounding in all aspects of civil liberties and how various laws are enacted. At the time I was also bringing up my two children as a single parent and working two days a week as a beautician. I did a variety of research jobs for extra money, one was a large Government survey, undergraduate Supervisions at various Colleges including Churchill, Magdalene, and Pembroke on Criminology and Sentencing papers. I also worked for the Open University as an Associate Lecturer and Examiner 1995 – 1999.

I went to Churchill College – a science college, and Mark was President of the Cambridge Microprocessor Group in the 1980s and author of a number of early computing books (such as the BBC Computer Advanced User Guide). We are keen followers of developments at the Museum for Computing in Haverhill.

My first academic job was as a Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the University of Leicester and for three years I worked in Leicester doing research on criminal justice and public safety while living in Cambridge (a 150 mile round-trip). As a chartered psychologist I have trained prison psychologists and trainee forensic psychologists. I moved to Birkbeck in 2003, where I now work. For five years from 2003 – 2008 I was Programme Director for the family and therapy courses at Birkbeck and since 2008 I have been an External Assessor, Anglia Ruskin University, BA Sociology and Criminology courses.

In addition to research and supervision I help students on a pastoral level. I put students in contact with helping agencies for economic, disability, or other social needs (I recently helped a student get a place in a women’s refuge). As a teacher and researcher involved in a variety of projects and campaigns I communicate clearly at all levels, to encourage, motivate, team-build, and develop strategy.

I am now mother and step-mum of 4 children  (age 23yrs, 20yrs, 15yrs, and 3yrs). Our roots in the region go back 30 yrs since my partner Mark A Holmes came here as a vet student in 1979.

Mark is an academic vet researching into animal diseases, and is frequently consulted by farms and local animal trusts. Many of our longstanding friends are in animal health, horse breeding and training.

My children went to local schools and colleges and my eldest son works for a local business. My daughter worked in a bookshop, at a local language school, and in Spain as an intern with the Spanish Liberal Democrats before going to University in October.
I also belong to a variety of campaign groups such as Liberty, Sense about Science, NO2ID,  and the Safety First Coalition. I have carried out systematic reviews for the Cochrane Collaboration and have done much research on the effectiveness of psychological treatment for sexual offenders – a topic of constant political, public, and media debate. My empirical work in this area has influenced a variety of user groups: Government departments such as the Home Office, Health, NGOs, and local authorities, as well as researchers, academics, and practitioners in journals such as the BMJ. Professional memberships include The European Association of Psychology and Law, American Psychological Association, British Psychological Society (Chartered 2001), American Society of Criminology, European Association of Criminology, British Society of Criminology, Higher Education Academy (Institute for Learning and Teaching), The Fawcett Society.

I have been a consultant to HM Prison Service Offending Behaviour Programme Unit and have maintained a useful link between research, policy makers and prisons. In addition to the advisory work I have done in parliament to ministers, parliamentarians I am also consultant to TV programme makers, and other media sources. This public engagement to more widely inform the public is a really rewarding part of my work.I am a member of the management committee of the Cambridge Socio-Legal Group – an interdisciplinary group who have arranged a series of seminars each year for the past eight years.  We have covered all aspects of social policy from parenting (including state and social parenting), welfare and contact, the interface of science and social policy, death and dying, autonomy, as well as finance and economic wellbeing.

In any spare time I enjoy healthy pursuits with family and friends, walking in the countryside or along the race courses. Teaching our youngest to swim at the local pools is a regular weekend event.
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