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Personal profile


Tim McSweeney is a Senior Lecturer (Forensic Psychology) with the School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire. He has previously held positions at: Middlesex University, London (2016-2017); Birkbeck, University of London (2010-2015); University of New South Wales, Australia (2009-2013); King's College, London (2003-2010); London South Bank University (1999-2003); and Imperial College, London (1997-1998).

Tim has over 20 years' experience of conducting and managing applied research studies which have been local, regional, national and international in focus, and used both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Since the late 1990s, he has been involved in and led numerous independent studies examining the operation and outcomes of interventions delivered at all stages of the criminal justice process: from policing and the courts, to work undertaken in youth justice, probation and prison settings. His research has been commissioned by a range of funders, including central and local government, law enforcement agencies, charitable trusts and international bodies.

Prior to joining the University of Hertfordshire at the end of 2018, Tim worked at the Home Office where he was responsible for overseeing research and evaluation on aspects of the government's counter-extremism strategy. This included work by the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism on local and national counter-extremism campaigns, and activity by Home Office Strategic Communications on female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, and hate crime.

Tim has previously held senior research roles with the Ministry of Justice. He led on survey methods and quantitative research with HM Inspectorate of Prisons and was one of two senior researchers leading a team of 12 which - over an 18-month period - surveyed and interviewed more than 13,000 prisoners, and inspected and reported on over 100 places of detention in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This included over 60 adult prisons, all young offender institutions and secure training centres, police custody in 13 force areas, and a range of facilities associated with immigration removal.

He is a trained Government Social Research (GSR) assessor and an accredited researcher with the Office for National Statistics.

Tim has also served in an advisory capacity to the Council of Europe, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the World Health Organisation on policy responses for tackling drug and alcohol-related crime.

Tim was awarded his PhD - without amendments - in 2014 by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia. He undertook his doctoral research with the Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP), based at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), under the supervision of Dr. Caitlin Hughes, Professor Alison Ritter, and Paul Turnbull. He had a full scholarship from the Colonial Foundation Trust, a UNSW International Postgraduate Award and in-kind support from the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research in London. His thesis used comparative case studies to examine the processes and impacts in Australia and England of policies aimed at diverting criminally involved drug misusers to treatment services.

A focus of Tim's research in recent years has been: understanding 'organised' and group-based forms of offending; youth crime and serious violence; the supervision and management of those sentenced by the courts; addressing drug and alcohol misuse and dependency within the criminal justice system; victims of child sexual abuse; and measuring the impact of different criminal justice interventions on reoffending.


Research interests

  • Social research methods
  • Data analysis
  • Evaluation (process and impact assessment)
  • The criminal justice system (policing, courts, probation and prisons)
  • Substance use and misuse
  • 'Organised' and group-based offending

Teaching specialisms

Levels 4 and 5:

  • Personal tutor
  • Methods for psychologists

Level 6:

  • Forensic psychology
  • Psychology project

Level 7:

  • Forensic psychology
  • Advanced psychology project

Education/Academic qualification

Public Health and Community Medicine, PhD

31 Aug 200931 Aug 2013

Social Research, BSc (Hons)

1 Sept 199531 May 1999

External positions

Associate, Middlesex University


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