Phil Willmot publishes new paper!


FCRG member Phil Willmot, along with ex-MSc student Alex Mason, has published a new study in the¬†Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology entitled ‘Institutional¬†Firesetting¬†in a Forensic Inpatient Population’

In the study, the characteristics and firesetting histories of 32 patients with histories of institutional firesetting in a secure psychiatric unit in the UK were examined. Only six patients (18.8%) had a prior conviction for firesetting, while a further eight (25.0%) had a history of firesetting but no conviction. All institutional firesetting was carried out alone, most commonly in a cell or bedroom. Institutional firesetting was significantly more common among patients with a diagnosis of personality disorder than among those with a diagnosis of mental illness.

The results are consistent with the M-TTAF trajectories model of firesetting. Different patterns of firesetting may emerge in institutional settings because firesetting may be one of an extremely limited repertoire of problem solving strategies and may be inadvertently reinforced in these settings. These results suggest that there may be a subgroup of institutional firesetters with no previous history of firesetting and this is a group that merits more detailed study.

Willmot, P., & Mason, A. (2023). Institutional firesetting in a forensic inpatient population. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 1-15.

Tochs and Todd publish gambling eye-tracking study!

FCRG members, Dr Tochukwu Onwuegbusi and Prof Todd Hogue¬†(along with Prof Amanda Roberts and an ex-Lincoln colleague) have a published a new paper entitled “An Eye Tracking Investigation of Young People‚Äôs Gaze Behaviour to Gambling and Non-Gambling Moving Adverts” in the journal European Addiction Research.

The study involved applying a novel data-driven methodology (that directly tracks eye movements) to reveal attentional biases towards gambling adverts and promotions by examining differences in young people’s eye gaze behaviour when watching gambling and non-gambling (control) moving adverts. The results showed that the new data-driven method can: (1) isolate video clips that best distinguish people on the low-high craving spectrum, (2) reveal the type of each video clip with the largest group differences, and (3) accurately predict young people’s gambling craving on the basis of eye movement patterns.


Onwuegbusi, T., Roberts, A., Sharman, S., & Hogue, T. (2023). An Eye Tracking Investigation of Young People’s Gaze Behaviour to Gambling and Non-Gambling Moving Adverts. European Addiction Research, 29(2), 109-118.

Ross publishes paper with international colleagues


FCRG lead – Dr Ross Bartels – has published in a new, two-study paper entitled “Public Stigmatizing Reactions Toward Nonoffending Pedophilic Individuals Seeking to Relieve Sexual Arousal” in the Journal of Sex Research. The first study showed that the use of ¬†the nonsexual pictures and sex dolls¬†to relive sexual arousal led to more stigmatising responses in the public than did the use of the testosterone-lowering medication. The results of Study 2 indicated that stigmatization was driven by disapproving the use of child stimuli rather than the relief of sexual arousal in general.¬†

Lehmann, R. J., Jahnke, S., Bartels, R., Butzek, J., Molitor, A., & Schmidt, A. F. (2023). Public Stigmatizing Reactions Toward Nonoffending Pedophilic Individuals Seeking to Relieve Sexual Arousal. The Journal of Sex Research, 1-11.

FCRG members contribute to published review on gambling

Dr Tochukwu¬†Onwuegbusi and Prof Todd Hogue, along with other Lincoln and ex-Lincoln colleagues, were listed among the authors and¬†organisations¬†that contributed to published¬†review (April 2023) on ‘High Stakes: Gambling Reform for the Digital Age by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.’ This is a Government White Paper and is set to change regulation.

The review can accessed below:     

Ross publishes paper with external colleagues


Ross has had a new paper published (with colleagues from other institutions) entitled “Exploring the stigmatisation of offending and non-offending paedophiles: A terror management approach” in the Journal of Criminal Psychology.

The study examined whether the stigma towards paedophilic individuals is related to negative associations regarding severe mental illness and extreme violence, and used a Terror Management Theory (TMT) approach to provide insights into why paedophilia is so highly stigmatised. The results showed that judgements were harsher in the offending conditions than the non-offending conditions, and also indicated that the stigmatisation of paedophilic individuals may be mediated by terror management processes.

Maro√Īo, A., Bartels, R. M., Hill, K., Papagathonikou, T., & Hitchman, G. (2023). Exploring the stigmatisation of offending and non-offending paedophiles: a terror management approach.¬†Journal of Criminal Psychology.

Lauren publishes invited article!

In January 2023, FCRG deputy, Dr Lauren Smith, published¬†an invited article entitled “The role of probation in supporting people who have experienced gambling and crime-related harms”¬†for a special issue of¬†Probation Quarterly.

Lauren provides a summary of key findings from a report published by The Howard League entitled ‚Äė‚ÄĚSurviving, not living‚ÄĚ: The lived experiences of crime and gambling‚Äô (Smith, 2022), which involved semi-structured interviews with 22 people, 18 of whom were people who had committed crime as a result of gambling. Key areas uncovered include the need to ask specific gambling-related question pre-sentence, highlighting an disordered gambling in pre-sentence reports, and improved training for probation staff.

If you wish to read the article, you can download it here.

Smith, L. (2021).  The role of probation in supporting people who have experienced gambling and crime-related harms.  Probation Quarterly, 26, 45-49. 

Hannah’s work gains real-world impact!


The British Board of Film Classification has published their work on non-photographic images of child sexual abuse, which includes a commissioned report by FCRG member Dr Hannah Merdian and the onlinePROTECT team.

The work has been endorsed by the Internet Watch Foundation, Barnardo’s, Childnet, and NSPCC. 

You can read about the details of report here

Lauren Smith publishes paper on crime and gambling

In November 2022, FCRG Deputy, Lauren Smith (lead author) and colleagues published a¬†new paper entitled ‚ÄúGambling and crime: An exploration of gambling availability and culture in an English prison” in Criminal¬†Behaviour¬†and Mental Health journal.

In this study, 282 male volunteers in a Category B male prison in England completed a questionnaire which included the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). The findings add to existing literature by identifying high rates of gambling in prison and showing that prisoners’ perceptions of gambling are as a normal part of prison life. They also suggest that screening and support should be available to manage gambling in prison, including support to reduce gambling-related debt, particularly given associations between debt and violence in prison. Relief from boredom and need for excitement were among the most common reasons for gambling in prison, indicating that there is a need to provide a more appropriately stimulating prison environment.

Smith, L. R., Sharman, S., & Roberts, A. (2022). Gambling and crime: An exploration of gambling availability and culture in an English prison. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 32(6), 389-403.

FCRG colleagues publish new collaborative paper!

FCRG member, Rachael Mason (lead author), in collaboration with FCRG members Michelle¬†Smith, Dr Tochs Onwuegbusi,and Prof Amanda Roberts, have published a¬†new paper entitled “New Psychoactive Substances and violence within a UK prison setting“.

    Michelle    Tochs    Amanda

The paper reports a study examining the use of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and its association with violence within a sample of 158 men residing in a category C prison. During their current sentence, 23% reported NPS use, while 11% reported using ‚Äútraditional substances‚ÄĚ (TD), 23% reported using both, and 43% reported no substances. More participants used NPS exclusively than participants using TD exclusively. Further, the odds of violence against other prisoners, staff, and property were higher for NPS users, who were also more likely to be impulsive. The authors conclude that NPS was prevalent within the prison and impacted on levels of violence, influenced by impulsivity. These findings emphasise the need for tailored treatment and prevention initiatives for NPS users.

Mason, R., Smith, M., Onwuegbusi, T., Roberts, A. (2022).  New Psychoactive Substances and violence within a UK prison                                 setting.  Substance Use and Misuse. Online first version.

Dr Georgina Gous publishes new empirical paper!!

FCRG member, Dr Georgina Gous, has recently lpublished a new paper entitled “The effects of witness mental illness and use of special measures in court on individual mock juror decision-making” in Psychology, Crime, and Law.

Georgina Gous




The paper reports a study using 204 members of the general public and student population who reported their attitudes towards mental illness before reading a mock trial vignette that differed in terms of witness mental illness (depression, schizophrenia, no mental illness) and the special measure used in court (screen, intermediary, no special measure). Following this, participants formulated judgments about the witness testimony provided (reliability, competency, credibility) and their likelihood of finding the defendant guilty. Results indicated that witnesses with depression were perceived as more competent than those with schizophrenia or no mental illness. Witnesses with depression were also perceived as being more competent than those with schizophrenia when a screen measure was used in court. The authors conclude that some awareness of these biases is needed in court, which may be aided by improving clarity about why special measures are used in court.

Gous, G., Azoui, M., Kramer, R. S., & Harris, A. (2022). The effects of witness mental illness and use of special measures in court on individual mock juror decision-making. Psychology, Crime & Law, 1-34.