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Forensic Psychology – Criminality

6. The Problem of Recidivism

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In this module, we think about the problem of recidivism (reoffending). We begin by discussing the high rate of reoffending in the UK and ask what this can tell us about the effectiveness of prison in deterring and rehabilitating criminals. We consider other factors unrelated to the penal system that may contribute to recidivism, including poverty, trauma and unemployment. Finally, we consider how a greater focus on the positive goal of rehabilitation, following Scandinavian models, could help to decrease the problem of recidivism within the UK penal system.


In this course, Prof. Francis Pakes (University of Portsmouth) discusses some issues in Criminal Psychology. In module one, we think about Lombroso and the notion of the ‘born criminal’ before moving on, in module two, to discuss genetic explanations of crime more broadly. Next, we examine cognitive explanations of crime, focussing in particular on moral reasoning in module three and cognitive distortions in module four. In the final part of the course, we turn to consider the criminal justice system, focussing on the aims of imprisonment in module five and the problem of recidivism in module six.


Francis is Professor in Criminology. He studied psychology in Groningen (the Netherlands) and received his PhD from Leiden University (the Netherlands). He joined the University of Portsmouth in 1998. Francis has a keen interest in comparative criminal justice and the role of globalisation and shaping criminal justice across the globe. His background in psychology serves him well in studying issues of mental health and criminal justice and other vulnerable and excluded populations. He is an expert on prisons, crime and justice in the Netherlands and regularly features in the media discussing prisons, violent crime and other crime and justice related issues.

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APA style

Pakes, F. (2019, October 22). Forensic Psychology – Criminality - The Problem of Recidivism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Pakes, F. "Forensic Psychology – Criminality – The Problem of Recidivism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Oct 2019,

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