Tara is a Principle Lecturer and the Director of Policing at Canterbury Christ Church University, responsible for all Policing related Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Partnership Programmes in the School of Law, Policing and Social Sciences.
Prior to academia, she spent 20 years as a Kent Police officer working in uniformed response, criminal investigation, intelligence and public protection in different ranks. During her time in Public Protection she held responsibility for investigations into child sexual harm, child serious physical harm, high risk domestic abuse and was a nationally accredited child death investigator. Other portfolios of responsibility included missing persons and mental heath for South East Kent, Implementation of the intelligence led policing model and Gender progression/ representation across the force.
Securing an MSc in Police leadership and Management whilst an operational officer on the fast track promotion scheme, her dissertation focused on Police Culture winning the best dissertation award. Awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Kent at Canterbury (UKC) as an associate lecturer she complete a PhD in Forensic Psychology, titled 'An examination of the psychological pathways of male carers who seriously harm and murder their children', supported by the National Homicide working group into reducing child death. She teaches a variety of policing related issues across programmes within the school with occasional guest lecturing at other institutions on policing related matters.
Tara is a passionate supporter of Police Professionalisation and is actively involved in the professionalisation agenda with the College of Policing and the Police Education Consortium, overseeing delivery of the PCDA/DHEP and DDHEP to serving officers in Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. Her key academic interests focus on Police Culture, Police Professionalisation, Fast Track Detective Programmes, Equality and Diversity: the PCDA/DHEP experience of ‘police culture’, and child death investigation.
Research and knowledge exchange
Current Research Projects
- Offender Interviewing
- Fast Track Detective Programme (DDHEP)
- Equality and Diversity and the PCDA/DHEP experience of police culture
- Unexpected death in children
Current PhD Supervisions
- Practitioners experiences in understanding and preventing filicide in New Zealand
- Evolving police responses to vulnerability in adolescence and extra-familial harm – The impact of the Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice programme, UK.
- The Investigation and Prosecution of Cyberstalking in Australia
Tara is also the Strategic Lead for the Programme Management Board within the Police Education Consortium, working in partnership with Cumbria, Middlesex and Portsmouth University. Jointly responsible for operational delivery of the PCDA, DHEP and DDHEP to Surrey, Sussex and and Hampshire Police.
Teaching and subject expertise
- Criminal and forensic psychology
- Police and policing, particularly police training and education, police professionalisation, and organisational culture
Tara sits on the Higher Education Forum, a national body representing the interests of Universities with a current focus to deliver the Police Educational Qualifications Framework in partnership with the College of Policing.
External Examiner for South Wales University
Dickens T. E (2014) A psychological agenda of those who severely harm children. Association of Chief Police Officers national homicide working group. London.UK
Dickens T. E (2016) An examination of men who seriously physically harm children. The National child death reduction conference.
Dickens T. E (2017) The offenders perspective. Advances in Preventing and Investigating Child Homicide’ conference, University of Huddersfield. UK
Dickens T. E (2018) An examination of the psychological pathway of men who seriously harm or murder children. University of Bournemouth.
Dickens T.E (2019) The psychological pathway of men who seriously harm or murder children. Association of Chief Police Officers National Homicide Working Group. Leicester, Uk.
Publications and research outputs
Editor for Blackstones' Handbook for Policing Students 2022
Dickens, T. E. & Wood, J. L. (2021) Serious child physical abuse: The beliefs of male carers, what were they thinking? (in preparation)
Dickens, T. E. & Wood, J.L. (2021) The characteristics of male carers who cause serious physical harm to children. (in preparation)
Dickens, T. E. & Wood, J.L. (2015). Severe child physical abuse: A psychological research agenda. Journal of Child Death Investigation. Association of Chief Police Officers.