Clinical Psychology

Trauma-informed and ACEs-aware policing

A range of projects are being conducted, with a focus on ACEs-awareness, trauma-awareness, crime and policing.

As public calls to the police are increasingly related to welfare concerns, rather than crime, there is an urgent need to explore the impact of interventions to promote awareness of the impact of trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACES) on individuals who come into contact with the police and the criminal justice system. To date, three project have examined this:


Moving Towards Trauma-informed policing

People who are involved with the police or the criminal justice system have often had a high number of adverse childhood events (ACEs). It is being increasingly recognised that systems and institutions need to be aware of the relationship between ACEs and adult outcomes and many systems are adopting trauma-informed responses.  Funded by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, this project examined police officers’ attitudes towards and perceptions of Adverse Childhood Experiences in police work. In this project, we:

  1. Examined the impact of a brief intervention on police officers’ attitudes towards trauma-informed policing work, and
  2. Explored whether characteristics of police officers, such as age, sex or experience were related to attitudes towards trauma informed care and
  3. Explored barriers to adopting trauma informed approaches.

The results showed that an awareness raising event based on a documentary and panel discussion did not lead to more positive attitudes to trauma-informed care in a police force that attended, when compared with a police force that did not. There were more positive attitudes towards trauma informed care for victims of crime, than for those who committed crimes. The results from focus groups showed that police officers needed more information on what a trauma informed approach means and how it could be used within their role. There were some concerns that a trauma informed approach could hinder them in doing their job. Police officers noted that they felt they did not have enough support to deal with trauma in their own roles.

Team: Karri Gillespie-Smith, Zara Brodie, Karen Goodall, Kimberly Collins, Kirsty Deacon.

Funder: Scottish Institute for Policing Research

Trauma-informed approaches in the custody suite

Custody suites are commonly viewed as critical juncture in the outcome of indivduals who have been detained by the police, particularly as many people in custody are highly vulnerable. In this project, we are taking a case study approach to examining the impact of the NES Trauma Training programme on police and civilian staff in a specific custody suite. This project is ongoing.

Team: Karen Goodall, Karri Gillespie-Smith, Zara Brodie, Caroline Lloyd

Funder: Scottish Instiute for Policing Research

Evaluation of the Pathfinder programme to reduce harm and engagment with crime

This ongong programme seeks to provide a qualitative evaluation of the experiences of people who were routed onto the Pathfinder programme following a caution or charge. Pathfinder seeks to address the root causes of crime, reduce harm to other and reduce re-offending by supporting people who committed crimes with issues such as housing, substance misuse and relationships and by encouraging them to make reparations and reflct on the crime. To date, ten inteviews who have completed the programme have been interviewed and focus groups have been conducted with key workers. The aim of the project is to identify key elements of the programme that reduce re-offending through the eyes of service users and keyworkers.

Team: Karen Goodall, Ingrid Obsuth

Funder: Unfunded