Staff Profile


Dr Liz Spruin


School: School of Psychology and Life Sciences

Campus: Canterbury Main Campus

Tel: 01227 923766

Profile summary

I am the Deputy Section Director in Psychology and the Director of the Justice Support Dogs International Research Lab. Before joining Canterbury Christ Church University in September 2013, I worked with the University of Kent and Her Majesty’s Prison Service as a facilitator for the Fire Intervention Programme for Prisoners (FIPP). I obtained my undergraduate degree in Psychology from Acadia University, Canada. I completed my MSc in Forensic Psychology at the University of Kent.  Following the completion of my MSc, I went on to complete my PhD in Investigative Psychology at the International Research Centre for Investigative Psychology (IRCIP). Whilst at the IRCIP, I also worked within secure hospitals, specializing in the development and evaluation of programs for reducing/preventing crime for a range of Mentally Disordered Offenders (MDOs), with particular interest in offenders with autism and personality disorders.

Since joining CCCU, I have worked on a number of projects pertaining to vulnerable women, children with autism, rape myth acceptance across different cultures and the emotional experience of MDOs. Most recently, I have been working with the criminal justice system and witness support services to explore the use of specially trained dogs throughout the criminal justice system. I have published widely both in academic journals as well as in mainstream media, having my work cited in various news outlets, including the Telegraph and The Psychologist, along with a number of media outlets, such as Crimewatch and BBC Breakfast Show. I have also worked with various criminal justice agencies, both locally and internationally, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Victim Support Europe and the American Bar Association.

Research and knowledge exchange

I am an active researcher and have general interests in forensic and investigative psychology. My current research focuses on implementing and evaluating the use of specially trained dogs throughout the criminal justice system. This research is being carried out in cooperation with a number of police forces in the UK, including Kent Police, Derbyshire Police and Nottingham Police, along with various international agencies (e.g., Courthouse Dog Foundation Duo Dogs). This work has led to national and international changes to policies and practices within the criminal justice system, along with advancements in the educational and training standards of specially trained dogs in the police interview process.

The importance of this research has also been recognised both internationally by the Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police, American Bar Association and Victim Support Europe and nationally by the BPS Division of Forensic Psychology, along with the Police and Crime Commissioner and High Sheriff of Kent.

Teaching and subject expertise

I am a Senior Fellow of the HEA. My current teaching is in the areas of forensic and investigative psychology.  In the past, I have also taught in the areas of canine behaviour, therapeutic support, research methods, as well as CBT, progressive relaxation, and behavioural therapies.

External activities


  • BPS Division of Forensic Psychology Annual Conference, Liverpool (June 2019). The use of therapy dogs to support court users.
  • BPS Division of Forensic Psychology Annual Conference, Bristol (June 2017). The use of specially trained dogs in the criminal justice system.
  • Thailand National Conference on Psychology, Thailand(July 2016). The emotional experience of mentally disordered offenders.
  • Tomorrow People Organization’s Public Health Conference, Thailand(July 2015). An evaluation of a local short break scheme for children with disabilities.

Recent Media and Public Engagement

  • BBC Radio Nottingham (March 2020). Facility dog research with Nottingham Police 
  • BBC Radio Derbyshire (December 2019). Facility dog research with Derbyshire Police 
  • BBC Crimewatch Roadshow (March 2019). Research on Europe’s first justice facility dog.
  • BBC Breakfast (March 2019). Research on justice facility dogs.
  • ITV News (February 2019). Meet Oliver: The Labrador helping victims of crime.
  • BBC Radio Live (February 2019). Phil Williams show - Meet Oliver.
  • BBC Radio Kent (February 2019). Discussion on the use of therapy dogs.
  • KMTV (January 2019). Dog to help victims of crime.
  • Radio 4 (January 2019). Oliver the justice facility dog.
  • Sky News (December 2018). UK’s first justice support dog to help vulnerable victims of crime. 

Publications and research outputs

Spruin, E., Dempster, T. and Ozcakir Mozova, K. (2020). Facility dogs as a tool for building rapport and credibility with  child witnesses. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 62, 100-114.

Spruin, E., Ozcakir Mozova, K., Dempster, T. and Freeman, R. (2020). The use of facility dogs to bridge the justice gap for survivors of sexual offending. Social Sciences. 9 (6).

Spruin, E., Dempster, T., Islam, S. and Raybould, I (2020). The effects of a therapy dog vs mindfulness vs a Student Advisor on student anxiety and well-being. Journal of Further and Higher Education. 

Spruin, E., Ozcakir Mozova, K., Dempster, T. and Mitchell, S. (2019). Exploring the impact of specially trained dogs on the court experiences of survivors of sexual offending in England and Wales: an exploratory case study. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research. pp. 1-27.

Spruin, E. & Mozova, K. (2018) Dogs in the criminal justice system: consideration of facility and therapy dogs. Pet Behaviour Science, 5, pp. 1-12.

Spruin, E., Wood, J., Gannon, T., & Tyler, N. (2017).  Sexual offender’s experiences of polygraph testing: a thematic study in three probation trusts. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 3, 1-13.

Spruin, E., Abbott, N., & Holt, N. (2017). Examining the experiences of a short break scheme amongst adolescents with disabilities (service users) and their parents.  International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 64, 1-15.

Spruin, E., Alleyne, E., Baker, R., Papadki, I., & Franz, A. (2017). Exploring the belief systems of domestic abuse victims: An exploratory study. Journal of Criminological Research, 3, 17-26.

Gannon, T.,  Alleyne, E., Butler, H., Danby, H., Kapoor, A., Lovell, T., Mozova, K., Spruin, E, Tostevin, T.,  Tyler, N., & Ciardha, C. (2015). Specialist Group Therapy for Firesetting Behaviour: Evidence of a Treatment Effect from a Non-Randomised Pilot Trial with Male Prisoners. Behavioural Research and Therapy, 73, 42 – 51.


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Last edited: 05/12/2017 03:57:00