Staff Profile


Dr Liz Spruin

Senior Lecturer

School: School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology

Campus: Canterbury

Tel: 01227 923766

Profile summary

I am an Investigative Psychologist who joined Canterbury Christ Church University in September 2013. I currently work as a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Justice Support Dogs International Lab. Before coming to CCCU 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. In 2009 I completed my MSc in Forensic Psychology at the University of Kent. My dissertation was on the attachment styles of rape-prone men. Following the completion of my MSc, I went on to complete my PhD in Investigative Psychology at the IRCIP; this was done under the direction of Professor David Canter. My PhD thesis explored the criminal narratives of mentally disordered offenders. Whilst at the IRCIP, I 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 ASD and personality disorders.

Whilst at CCCU, I have worked on a number of projects pertaining to vulnerable women, short break schemes for 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. The aim of this research is to investigate the benefits of using these dogs in supporting victims and witnesses of crime.  I also teach modules related to forensic and investigative psychology within the undergraduate and post-graduate programmes. I am also the international lead for the department of psychology.          

Research and knowledge exchange

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 the Policing Department and in conjunction with a number of local (i.e., Witness Services, Court and Tribunal Services, Kent Police) and international (i.e., Courthouse Dog Foundation) organizations.  The project aims to produce the first global evaluation within this area, which will further help inform criminal justice agencies and practitioners with evidence of how these dogs could benefit victims and witnesses throughout the criminal justice process. We hope that building this type of evidence base will further open up these practices to countries such as the UK, where such practices are not currently established. 

The importance of the research has been recognised both internationally by the Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police and the Courthouse Dog Foundation in 2016, and nationally by the BPS Division of Forensic Psychology, along with the Police and Crime Commissioner and High Sheriff of Kent in 2017.

External activities

Conference Presentations

  • Intermedaries for Justice: Vulnerability & Justice (May 2018) - Presented: 'Justice Facility Dogs'
  • BPS Division of Forensic Psychology Annual Conference (June 2017) - Award Winning Presentation: 'Helping Criminal Justice System Users: Utilising Specially Trained Dogs'
  • Thailand National Conference on Psychology (July 2016) - Award Winning Presentation: 'Emotional experience of Mentally Disordered Offenders'
  • Tomorrow People Organization’s Public Health Conference (July 2015) - Presented: ‘The Impact of Short Break Schemes on Disabled Children and their Families’
  • The Society for Police and Criminal Psychology Conference (September, 2014) - Presented: 'Criminal Narratives of Mentally Disordered Offenders'
  • 15th Annual International Academy for Investigative Psychology Conference (April, 2014) - Presented: 'Criminal Narratives of Mentally Disordered Offenders'
  • 14th Annual International Academy for Investigative Psychology Conference (April 2013) - Presented: ‘The Criminal Experience of Mentally Disordered Offenders'
  • European Association of Psychology and Law (April 2012) Presented: ' The Scheme Modes and Criminal Thinking Styles of Mentally Disordered Offenders


Recent Media and Public Engagement 

  • KMTV (January 2019) - Dog to help victims of crime 
  • Sky News (Dec 2018) - UK's first 'justice support dog' to help vulnerable victims of crime
  • ITV Meridian News (April 2017) -“The dog that appears in court” 
  • BBC Essex Radio – Pets in the courtroom (December 2015) – Discussion: ‘Should pets be allowed in the UK court rooms?’

Publications and research outputs

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. & Mozova, K. (2018) Specially trained dogs in the UK criminal justice system. Seen and Heard, 28,  pp. 63-67.

Spruin, E., & Mozava, K. (September, 2017) Using specially trained dogs in the Criminal Justice System. BPS Forensic Update, issue 125, 39 – 42

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., & Coulston, B. (2017). The emotional experience of mentally disordered offenders: An exploratory study. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 17, 79-98.

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.

Spruin, E., Holt, N., Ferdandez, A., & Franz, A. (2016). Dogs in the Courtroom. Crime and Criminal Behaviour. New York:Nova Science Publishers.

Spruin, E. & Siesnaa, B. (2016). The Criminal Experience of Mentally Disordered Offenders. In L. Sher & J. Merrick, Crime and Criminal Behaviour. New York:Nova Science Publishers.

Gannon, T.,... Spruin, E., 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.

Spruin, E., Alleyne, E., & Papadki, I.  (2015). Domestic abuse victims perceptions of abuse and support: A narrative study. Journal of Criminal Research, Policy and Practice, 1, 19-28.


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