Professor Pamela Taylor
Chair in Psychiatry, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences
The ultimate aims of my research are to find out what will improve the health and safety of the important minority of people with disorders of mental health who become offenders, and the health and safety of all those people with whom they come into contact – family, mental health, criminal justice services and third sector staff and the wider public.
To this end, in conjunction with colleagues in Wales, the rest of the UK and internationally, the research has four main streams:
- Pathways from psychosis to serious violence
- Social exclusion, mental ill-heath, substance misuse and offending
- The mental and physical health of people as they pass through the criminal justice system.
- Assessment, interventions and motivation for treatment engagement
Director of Research at Offender Health Research Network Cymru
Psychosis and violence
While the small but significant association between psychotic illnesses and violence is now well established, the nature of the association is less well understood. Our psychosis subgroup is investigating the ways in which people who have delusions, important symptoms of the illness, generally talk about them to other people and how this affects changes in these beliefs, their feelings about those people, their actions or all of these. We are also studying how changed structure or function of some areas in the brain may link with violent behaviour in the context of psyhcosis.
Social exclusion, mental ill-heath, substance misuse and offending
Homelessness is one of the most exteme forms of social exclusion. Marianne van den Bree and I have been developing research methods and a UK and Ireland national database about newly homeless people in conjunction with the Salvation Army and the University of Kent, as well as examining previously collected data from the USA. Our main research questions are about antecedents of homlessness and factors which may influence particularly harsh outcomes, including combinations of mental ill-health, harmful alcohol use, direct self-harm and offending in conjunction with being homeless. The knowledge will lead to development of intervention strategies to help such people towards healtheir and safer life-styles.
The mental and physical health of people as they pass through the criminal justice system
Most investigations of mental state among prisoners has been cross-sectional – depending on a snapshot in time of their difficulties. Our questions are about how this may change during the early stages of imprisonment, a time when it is generally accepted that prisoners are most vulnerable to attempting suicide and to other serious health problems, and thus how scarce resources may be better targeted. We are joined in this work by colleagues from Bristol University.
Assessment, interventions and motivation for treatment engagement
An important finding in our work with pre-trial prisoners has been the overwhelming burden of harmful drinking in this group, greater even than their use of illicit substances, and in the context of very short but repeated stays in prison. Treatment programmes in prison, however, are directed to longer stay prisoners, a short group programme which could be offered at this stage.