Briefing parliamentarians

Ella Rhodes on a British Psychological Society sponsored report for the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

A psychology PhD student with a passion for influencing policy with her work has written a Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) briefing note about policing domestic abuse. Genevieve Waterhouse (London South Bank University), whose PhD concerns the forensic interviewing of children, secured a POST Postgraduate Award from the British Psychological Society to compile literature and interviews for the research briefing, which will be used by MPs and peers.

In her note Waterhouse gave a background of laws and statistics surrounding domestic abuse, including the recent introduction of the coercive control offence – which has made repeated controlling or coercive behaviour against the law. Waterhouse also looked at the literature, conducted more than 20 interviews with experts in the field, and examined evidence on the different policing approaches to domestic abuse.

Waterhouse said she was keen to apply for the award as she went into the field of psychology with the hope her work could directly help people and influence policy. She said: ‘I thought it was an amazing opportunity to see how the research we’re doing could be put into practice. I didn’t want to do a PhD unless I could see it had some practical benefit, and I know for my work to have influence it will need to feed into policy.’

During her three-month secondment to POST Waterhouse said it was exciting to see science feeding into the government’s work. She told The Psychologist about the work behind compiling her note: ‘The first thing I needed to do was increase my knowledge around the subject area, in quite a short amount of time! I read up on policy, research and reports from charities. I identified some key people in the area, including academics and experts from the College of Policing.’ Waterhouse then compiled her four-page document which was extensively reviewed and eventually published. She said the experience had been ‘amazing’ and added: ‘Two of the most important things I’ve taken away from the experience were how to provide a lot of detail and information in a short document and aimed at people who might not have any psychology background. Also learning how research can be put into practice and what kinds of research are most helpful in making those political decisions.’

- The BPS POST Postgraduate Award re-opens for entries at the start of June with a closing date of 31 August. The award is open to all postgraduate students registered for a higher degree by research by PhD or MPhil and who are in their second or third year of study, or part-time equivalent, at the time of application. 

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