Gloria Laycock, who gave her inaugural speech as director of the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science yesterday, has found herself the focus of much interest this week as the Dando trial returned to the Old Bailey.
Professor Laycock has been involved in studying the criminal world throughout her career, having started her professional life with a ten-year stint as a psychologist at Wormwood Scrubs prison.
She headed the Home Office's Police Research Group from 1992 to 1998 and the Policing and Reducing Crime Unit from 1998 to 1999. Her international renown has been bolstered by recent visiting fellowships at the National Institute of Justice in Washington DC and at the Australian Institute of Criminology. Professor Laycock is well placed to give a lead on an emotive issue.
As the main political parties prepare for the general election, crime policy is a hot topic. Conservative posters are asking: "You paid the tax, so where are the police?" Attention to Professor Laycock's speech was boosted by media interest surrounding the death of television presenter Jill Dando. The address, titled "Politicians or scientists: who has the answers to crime?", outlined the contribution that the institute, based at University College London, will make to tackling crime.
Before her speech, Professor Laycock said: "We want nothing less than to change the way people think about crime, change the way in which industry and the public sector create crime opportunities through their products and services, change the way the police react to it and the way government tries to control it. The agenda is daunting. But, if we can do all that, we will have paid a fitting tribute to Jill."
Professor Laycock has published a wide range of journal articles and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Legal and Criminological Psychology .