Expert witness services
Information for solicitors and other referrers
Our team are friendly and approachable, and so if you have any queries, or the particular issue surrounding your client’s case is not listed in the examples of work we engage in, please click through to the contact page to get in touch via email or phone. Upon request we promptly provide enquirers with an estimate of fees that you can easily use to apply for or request funding (e.g. Legal Aid Authority [LAA] applications, or within your organisation), and timescales are discussed in advance as part of this transparent process. We pride ourselves in completing on time and in our clear communication with the referrer.
Along with an estimate of fees you will be provided with the psychologist’s up to date expert witness CV to view in order to ensure that you are well informed and fully content prior to the work proceeding. You will be able to feel safe in the knowledge that all of our psychologists have up-to-date DBS/CRB checks, professional indemnity insurance, and appropriate professional registration (e.g. British Psychological Society Chartered and Health and Care Professions Council Registered) alongside other professional training and expertise.
This page summarises some of the contexts in which expert witness and clinical assessment reports are provided, and some of the commonly used types of assessment tools are listed. This is not exhaustive, and our assessments are always bespoke depending on the needs of the client and context, and we always used recognised tools within our assessments, such as structured professional judgment risk assessment tools and psychometric tests. Dr Tully is the only author-approved HCR-20 (violence risk assessment) trainer currently offering open training events in the UK, and she is also an author approved SAPROF (protective factors assessment) trainer, and SARAv3 (intimate partner violence risk assessment) trainer. Alongside her training of professionals in personality and sexual / violence risk assessment tools, you can be sure your work with our team is in safe hands with all of these tools being applied competently and ethically by our team members.
Independent prison psychology reports
Independent prison reports are provided in cases such as life and IPP/indeterminate parole cases, or other cases where an independent psychological assessment is useful e.g. recall review, extended sentence release review, Category A reviews, and for adjudications. These psychological assessments can be extremely helpful where there is a disagreement over where a client can be safely managed e.g. suitability for progression to Category D (open) prison conditions, assessment relating to Category A re-categorisation criteria, or what further treatment may or may not be necessary e.g. residence at a Psychologically Informed Planned Environment (PIPE) or a Therapeutic Community (TC). In addition, there are times where there may be a query relating to suitability for an offending behaviour programme (e.g. Kaizen or Horizon), or indeed the necessity for such programmes to be completed in closed prison conditions; suitability and necessity for programmes to be completed are two different issues, and our expert reports can provide well informed opinions on these issues.
Other reasons that an independent expert psychology report may be critical is where a particular assessment is needed, for example psychopathy (PCL-R), personality disorder (e.g. IPDE), diagnostic autism assessment (e.g. ADOS-2, ADI-R, DISCO) learning disability assessment (e.g. WAIS-IV, adaptive functioning), or specialist neuropsychological assessment (WMS-IV, DKEFS) but the prison psychology team is not able to provide such an assessment in line with the timings of the parole review. We have clinical and forensic psychologist experts in all of these areas, as well as s forensic speech and language therapist, and so you can come to us for assistance!
An independent psychology report is also useful where the client could be considered to have a ‘complex case’, which may be where the client has mental health needs (e.g. schizophrenia or a mood disorder), and/or they may attract a diagnosis of 'personality disorder' (PD). Similarly the client may have a learning difficulty or disability (LD/ID) or developmental disorder such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They may have spent time in a hospital setting as well as prison and their progression or treatment pathway may not be clear. Our team provides comprehensive assessment in all cases, and the range of experience across NHS / private secure psychiatric hospitals, NHS community settings, and prison based settings means that we are well positioned to provide an expert opinion in these types of cases.
As our team members are located throughout the UK, we provide prison reports nationwide, mainly with LAA funding but also for privately funded cases (but in privately funded cases, only with instructions from the legal representative).
Criminal Court reports
The more a Court understands an alleged offender's presentation and behaviour, the more likely it is that the disposal will be appropriate for the person's risk and needs. Assessments in criminal cases may be needed where, as mentioned above in relation to prison assessments, the client has additional factors that may need consideration when the court is deciding on guilt or disposal. This is an area where the need for cognitive functioning assessments is particularly high, and in these cases an independent psychological assessment can give an opinion on learning disability and the adaptations needed for Court, or we can consider the impact of the learning disability on on risk and treatment. Additionally, the court may wish to know how a person’s suggestibility and cognitive functioning or their mental health may have impacted on their thinking and role in an alleged offence, or the court may need to know if an alleged offender or the complainant may have PTSD. Often imprisonment can have a big impact on a person's mental health and a common instruction relates to how custody may impact on a relevant mental health condition; we can assess the client in order to explain these issues from an expert psychological perspective.
Independent psychological risk assessment reports are also useful at the pre-sentence stage as this may aid probation when they are writing their pre-sentence recommendations (e.g. the impact of learning difficulty on the client’s ability to engage in prison based SOTP). Courts have found our risk assessment reports and risk formulations particularly useful, where level of risk is identified and a treatment pathway has been discussed in the report.
For the prosecution/CPS/Police we have completed many assessments such as providing a second opinion on learning disability where the defence has already produced such an assessment, autism diagnostic assessment, and capacity to consent to sex. We have also provided reports focusing on the complainant's PTSD/trauma symptoms and diagnosis, and how to adapt the interview and court procedures to support the person to give evidence as best as possible. Other cases have involved specialist considerations such as malingering of learning disability. and the assessment of selective mutism of victims.
A particular specialism within the team and the work we do is the assessment of people who have been alleged to have, or are convicted of, downloading / sharing indecent images of children. Additionally people with this sort of risk may have been apprehended by a vigilante group. We complete forensic psychological risk and needs analysis which can not only help the court proceedings, but may also be helpful relating to an alleged offender's employment or contact with social services. We link in closely with other relevant organisations, such as therapists from organisations like Stop SO, where relevant.
Our team was the first in the UK to be trained in the VERA-2R which is an extremism / ideology based violence risk assessment which has applications in criminal, prison, immigration, and mental health law cases whether the person has received a relevant 'TACT' (Terrorism Act) offence or not.
Local Authorities/Care proceedings (including pre-proceedings)/private law family proceedings
We provide expert assessments of children and adults to assist this important process. These assessments are sometimes focused on the risk that one or both parents may pose to a particular child, parenting ability, a parent's ability to put the child's needs first to protect them (protective ability/capacity), parental alienation, a parent's learning disability and what support they might need, or assessment of a looked after child's therapeutic and residence needs. Assessment of a non-offending partner's capacity to put the needs and safety of their children first is also a common instruction. We have provided such assessments instructed by solicitors and by local authorities, usually jointly instructed, and we are on the approved provider list for several local authorities including Wiltshire and Croyden. We also complete mental capacity assessments in a range of circumstances.
Mental health review tribunal (MHRT)
Our team provides independent assessments of risk and formulation of offending. Assessment of personality is often a contentious issue and we are able to provide an expert opinion in these types of cases (e.g. IPDE) and to provide detailed risk assessment reports. Each report is unique and depends on the needs of the referrer, and we always take an individualised approach to assessment. We have provided reports that have been instructed by solicitors on behalf of the patient, and also on behalf of organisations responsible for caring for the patient (e.g. Priory Healthcare, Cygnet Healthcare).
Religious or sporting organisations
Safeguarding is crucial to protect those engaging with these organisations, and to ensure that safeguarding is robust, to maintain public and statutory body confidence in the safeguarding process, organisations require independent psychological assessments of those working within their service. This has often been in the form of psychological risk assessment where sexual allegations have been made but may not have been proceeded with, or where there have been allegations of impropriety and a safeguarding plan is needed to consider strategies that may be required to reduce or mitigate risk. Other issues we have assessed include spiritual abuse, financial abuse/impropriety, as well as relational and boundary problems. We are an approved provider of such assessments for several religious and sporting organisations.
Common types of assessments and tools you may have heard of:
Your instructions may involve issues such as: ‘risk of future sexual offending and suitability for open conditions‘ or ‘assessment of domestic violence risk and suitability/need for (a specific) treatment programme‘, 'assessment of risk and diagnostic assessment of personality disorder', or 'protective capacity of parent in light of the other parent's indecent images conviction'. They may involve issues of 'assessment of personality disorder and the impact this may have on parenting ability'.
Dr Tully and her Associates use their expertise to choose the most clinically and empirically relevant tools to aid report writing and formulation of professional opinion. Often when providing second opinions, we find that others have used tools as part of routine practice, but they may not have considered factors specific to the case and the empirical basis of the use of specific tools. Our team have an excellent balance of practice and academic expertise, and our assessments are always well-balanced, easy to understand, and are underpinned by psychological theory.
The list of assessment tools/types below are some of the tools that are commonly used within the field of clinical and forensic psychology. They are assessment tools that our team may (or may not) choose to use, or these are assessments that your client may have already had, but where an independent assessment is needed to provide opinion on the case.
Examples may include:
- HCR-20 / HCR-20v3 – violence risk assessment
- Risk for Sexual Violence Protocol / RSVP /SVR-20v2 – sexual violence risk assessment
- Internet sexual offending risk assessment e.g. C-PORT
- Extremism / Terrorism Act ('TACT') offences risk assessment e.g. VERA-2R
- RM 2000 / Risk Matrix 2000 / SARN – risk of sexual offending tools often used by prison psychologists
- Spousal Assault Risk Assessment / SARAv3 – domestic violence risk assessment
- Psychopathy Checklist-Revised / PCL-R /CAPP – assessment of psychopathy or psychopathic personality disorder
- International Personality Disorder Examination / IPDE – personality disorder diagnostic assessment
- SCID 5 PD - diagnostic personality disorder assessment
- Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale / WAIS-IV / cognitive functioning assessment (part of) learning disability assessment
- Stalking risk: Stalking Assessment and Management (SAM), Stalking Risk Profile (SRP)
- Risk assessment of young people e.g. SAVRY, AIM-2
- Trauma assessment; PTSD and Complex-PTSD diagnosis
- Fire setting risk assessment
- Capacity assessment (e.g. capacity to consent to sex, capacity to litigate)
- Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence / WASI-II / cognitive functioning screening assessment
- Wechsler Memory Test (WMS-IV) - memory testing
- Malingering assessments e.g. TOMM
- Other cognitive and neuropsychological/executive functioning tests e.g. Hayling & Brixton, D-KEFS
- Diagnostic assessment of ADHD
- DISCO, ADOS-2, ADI-R, MIGDAS 2 - diagnostic assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI-IV), PAI, MMPI - dimensional personality assessments
- SAPROF / SAPROF-Y / SAPROF-SO - protective factors assessment