Featured Job: Forensic Psychologists

Employer: HM Prison & Probation Service

HMPPS psychologists have opportunities to pursue their professional interests within a flexible working environment. But it’s the chance to really change lives and prevent future victims that makes the career so unique.

Lucy Dye is a senior forensic psychologist, working as part of a regional team across multiple establishments, but predominately based at HMP Bure. The prison is less than 10 years old and the psychologists there have been able to really shape how it is run.

This has included setting up a wing that could be awarded Enabling Environment (EE) status in the future. ‘The wing will be pro-social with a community ethos,’ Lucy explains. ‘It’s about introducing and developing life skills and building relationships with others. Some of the men will be released from that wing, and some will go back into the main prison as mentors to inspire and support other residents across the prison.’

HMP Bure holds men convicted of sexual offences.‘It’s not for everyone,’ Lucy admits. ‘You do have to be resilient and reflect on how you’re coping. But there’s lots of support available. As an organisation they’re aware of the impact the work can have on staff and so they can safeguard against that.’

Many of the men at HMP Bure have complex needs, personality disorders or learning difficulties. ‘You have to be quite flexible about what success means for different people and provide a measure of success for each individual. There will be some people who appear to progress quite quickly, but often it’s the ones who make slower progress who you feel you’ve succeeded with – when people’s needs are more complex and difficult to overcome, if you can support them in making what may seem like just small changes it can feel like you’ve achieved a lot.’

As a senior psychologist, Lucy line manages and supervises trainees. ‘Seeing the residents progress is part of what makes my job satisfying. I also get a lot of fulfilment being involved in staff development – watching people progress from the beginning of their careers.’

‘You’re not just working with residents. A key part of our role is consultancy and making psychological knowledge accessible to other staff so it can play a role in sentence planning and management. We encourage staff to think about how they can support each individual in a psychologically-informed way – through that we’ve seen a real reduction in things like self-harm and violence. That’s real progress.’

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