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Psychology professor contributes to ITV’s Crime and Punishment Season

A new ITV documentary exploring one of the UK's most high-profile cases of criminal profiling will feature Liverpool Hope’s Visiting Professor David Canter.

Rachel Nickell: The Untold Story revisits the murder of young mum Rachel Nickell, who was killed on Wimbledon Common in 1992.

The case garnered considerable attention in the press and was the subject of an extensive police investigation, which ultimately led to a change in policing. In the ITV documentary, news reporter Fiona Bruce speaks to key figures from the case to uncover what went wrong in the original inquiry and how the case was solved.

Professor Canter, who has worked with more than 30 police forces on major crime investigations, discussed the fundamental changes to the use of psychological profiling that resulted from the investigation.

He said: “I get asked to contribute to documentaries or newspaper reports probably a couple of times a week. I turn down the great majority of them because they are not really interested in a serious scientific input. I only agree to participate if the account is going to inform others of some important issue or psychological discovery.

“In the case of this programme, there is the opportunity to enable people to understand that there is a new area of psychology that I called Investigative Psychology, which is totally different from the cavalier offering of uninformed speculations that pass for ‘offender profiling’.

“The producer of the programme was very keen to get this message across and has a reputation for making really good, serious documentaries for major broadcasters. The programme is also presented by a well-known and excellent professional journalist - Fiona Bruce.”

Professor Canter, who was born and raised in Liverpool, recently joined Liverpool Hope’s Psychology department as a Visiting Professor, and is studying a PhD in Music at the University.

Having always wanted to be a composer, Professor Canter took advantage of having more time after retiring from his previous professorships to explore his life-long dream.

He said: “My main objective is to develop my skills as a composer, but the PhD framework does require some sort of definition of a thesis. So, I’ve drawn on my background in Psychology, my interest in individual differences, and the role of personal narratives in our lives. This provides the impetus for studying ‘Character in Music as a basis for composing’.

“I’m very impressed by the mission of Liverpool Hope, and the commitment of its staff to quality teaching and the developing of a research active community. I hope I can find some time to contribute to that.”

Watch Rachel Nickell: The Untold Story on Thursday 8th March, 9pm, ITV.

Published on 04/05/2018