Helping the Air Force battle violence

Ella Rhodes reports.

A University of Huddersfield psychologist has been working with the US Air Force to help eliminate sexual violence at its bases. Dr Maria Ioannou, Director of the university’s MSc in Investigative Psychology, was invited to visit RAF Lakenheath to provide training to volunteer victim advocates.

Ioannou told us that her talk covered investigative psychology, offender profiling and cases in which the investigative approach has helped solve serious sexual assaults – such as in the Manchester bedsit rapist case. She explained: ‘The investigative psychology approach is a systematic, scientific approach to the analysis of crime and criminals. Investigative psychology is concerned with the psychological principles, theories and empirical findings that may be applied to investigations and the legal process. I explained how we link offender characteristics to crime scene actions and behaviour using empirical methods.

‘I covered operational applications of investigative psychology with emphasis on salience, suspect elicitation, suspect prioritisation, crime linking and geographical profiling, all with real cases and examples of sexual assaults,’ she added. Carolina Yepez, the base’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, subsequently visited the university where she delivered a lecture to masters students. There are now hopes of further collaboration, including the prospect of USAF personnel taking the Investigative Psychology course.

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