The need for forensic psychologists is increasing day by day as the number of crimes is increasing. Other than the police, witnesses, special investigating officers, pieces of evidence, and judge, there are various processes and steps in solving a case that forensic psychologists can only do so. They employ the techniques of both; psychology and the law to help in solving a case. Read further to know about their roles and responsibilities in detail.
What Is Forensic Psychology? History Of Forensic Psychology
Forensic Psychology, a subset of applied psychology, is simply the use of clinical treatments and involves the application of psychological knowledge and methods to help the legal system and criminal proceedings.
The history of forensic psychology is as fascinating as it is itself. From the contemporary definitions of Forensic Psychology, it recognizes that every subfield of psychology applies its scientific, technical, and applied knowledge to the law, so the same happens in forensic psychology.
Hugo Münsterberg was the first to discover applied psychology and used its application in legal systems, but his approach was rejected, scrutinized, and labeled as aggressive.
During World War II, it was the first time clinical psychology and psychologists came into the picture. Plus, they were considered the experts. It was the time, starting in 1969, that forensic psychology started gaining its different place and recognition.
The merging of the American Board Of Forensic Psychology ( ABFP) and the American Board Of Professional Psychology opened the gateway for many psychologists to work in forensic psychology. In 2001, it was officially placed as a professional specialty under the APA.
Role Of Forensic Psychologists In Crime-Solving
1 ) Evaluation and Assessment
In the legal system, the role of forensic psychologists includes the assessment and then the evaluation of the samples or shreds of evidence collected, to access a person’s psychological state for legal purposes, or to help identify who is the main culprit of the story. The evaluations can be done for many purposes and reasons like for criminal court, criminal sentencing or parole hearings, family court, and much more.
2 ) Treatment
The people require forensic psychologists in their criminal and civil cases. While criminal cases include drug and alcohol abuse treatment, sex offender treatment, treatment for a mental illness, or anger management courses, civil proceedings need them to treat the family issues going through divorce or custody cases.
3 ) Consultations
Forensic psychologists carry out the responsibilities of reviewing court records, serving as jury consultants, and assessing without testimony, among others, are done by the forensic psychologists to understand better human behavior, trauma, its effects, and so on. There are different types of consultations under this category, and their jobs and responsibilities also differ. Some of the common ones consultations are as follows:
- Law Enforcement Consultations: It mainly focuses on criminal profiling and is an appealing aspect of psychology. The scientific approach, FBI’s Crime Scene Analysis, and Canter’s investigation Psychology with the intuitive system, including Tukey’s Behavioural Evidence Analysis, are two common approaches in this type of consultation.
- Trial Consultations: Consultants who work with legal professionals such as attorneys. The trial consultation requires a step-by-step process, including jury selection, development of case strategy, and witness preparation. The consultants need to go through a series of responsibilities faced with many ethical sides. So, to give precise data on the case, the forensic psychologist must be neutral and have a clear look at both sides of the case.
- Expert Testimony: As the name suggests, they are the experts on a particular topic and possess specialized knowledge about it, which is then used to testify on matters of mental health, social, experimental, cognitive, or developmental.
4 ) Research
Like any other field, forensic psychologists make scientific discoveries while remembering the concept of the law too. Employed at various colleges and universities, research institutions, government, and private agencies, including mental health agencies, forensic psychologists with higher degrees like Ph.D. cover their entire area of research, with the concepts of psychology and the law. There are many famous, brilliant, and talented forensics psychologists worldwide, including Saul Kassin, very widely known for studying false confessions, and Elizabeth Loftus and Gary Wells, both known for their research on eyewitness memory.
5 ) Education and Advocacy
As stated above, forensic psychologists employed at various places have a significant impact and influence on education. For some time, many educational tours and fairs and special occasions encounter forensic psychologists so that they could teach the students the basics. The forensics psychologist engages with the young generation via teaching, training, and researching. Advocacy is another type of educational teaching through which a young age and the students learn deeply about psychology in terms of the law.
6 ) Forensic Psychologists For Death Investigation
Forensic psychologists are needed first to determine the cause of the death of any dead body, whether it is accidental, suicidal, or murder. It can be done through the psychological or psychiatric autopsy, which is a procedure through which forensic psychologists can know what happened to the person before their death. This procedure requires the information gathered from personal documents, police reports, interviews with families, friends, and close ones with the medical records.
7 ) Specific Functions Of Forensic Psychologist
- Other than doing all of the above, the forensic psychologist also teaches and trains the police officers on dealing with mentally ill and abused individuals with psychopaths.
- They also interact with the victims or witnesses of a crime.
- They also provide training to victim service providers based on psychology and psychological reactions.
A forensic psychologist is needed in every sphere of a criminal or a typical case. Without them, it would take much time to complete the case. Despite all their responsibilities, they have to value some ethical guidelines too, like integrity, impartiality, and fairness, and avoid conflicts. As the number of complex and challenging cases increases day by day, the need and demand for forensic psychologists are growing the same.
Talking about India, forensic psychology is not a very successful field. Many people and departments do not know who a forensic psychologist is and what its role is. As this field is emerging slowly in India, many agencies, NGOs, government officials, and educational setups are increasing awareness about it. With this consistency, this field will be one of India’s ever-grossing and respectable filed.