Neda Richards

Neda Richards

Profile

My background is in Psychology and Forensics. Previously, I have worked as an intern at the Home Office in the Crime and Policing Knowledge Hub. In addition, I have taken on a temporary research assistant role for a short project at the College of Policing focused on neighbourhood policing. I have, also, worked as a research assistant on the EU funded PRIME project focusing on communication measures to prevent, interdict and mitigate lone actor extremist events in Europe.

Outside academia, central government, and policing professional bodies I have experience in audit, which I have found to be an excellent skill source to better understand the processes in place and the identification of bottlenecks in the service.

Research interests

I am passionate about human behaviour and have a keen interest in our national security. My current research focuses on the use of Community Engagement (CE) - a counterterrorism policing prevention strategy- and its impact on reporting behaviour. In particular, I have used an interdisciplinary approach (psychology, criminology, political science, and economics) to identify the underlying psychological factors, which may shape our decision process. Reporting behaviour is a complex and interconnected social phenomenon. A holistic approach is needed to comprehend and address a multifaceted behaviour, especially if we want to influence it. Additionally, reporting behaviour is used as a proxy measure (an indirect measure of the correlation between CE and prevention) in this research in order to measure the impact of CE on prevention. 

Both ‘community’ and ‘engagement’ suggest psychological processes. Through self-identification, we adopt stereotypes that shape our identities, relationships, behaviour, attitudes, and beliefs. This highlights that there is a psychological underpinning to whom, what or where (and at times when) we associate ourselves with. To belong or to avoid is a psychological process. Consequently, when there is a mention of ‘community’ we need to address the psychological underpinning, which guides human behaviour.

Moreover, ‘engage’ is defined as to “occupy or attract someone’s attention or interest”, to “involve someone” or to “participate or become involved”, to “establish a meaningful contact or connection”, and to “pledge or enter into a contract to do something”. Therefore, engagement involves or refers to a psychological state, which induces ‘commitment’ or ‘motivation’.

To examine the impact of CE on reporting behaviour and how people can be encouraged to come forward to raise their concern, my research explores the method of CE delivery in East Jutland (Denmark) and West Yorkshire (UK) and the experience of reporters (those who reported radicalisation and extremism), as well as their reasons for reporting.

The research found that as result of CE reporting was increased, more impressivl from relative reporters (family/friends). The data illustrated that reporting behaviour may be influenced and encouraged by connecting with the individual’s identity and sense of responsibility/accountability, whilst reduce the risk reporting by providing an informal process for reporting in addition to raising awareness of the support available and the process of reporting. Hence, CE may influence reporting by being delivered through a partnership between the police and the local authorities, as well as being centred on dialogue, problem-oriented, transparency, individuality, and empowerment. More importantly, the research found that CE needs to be delivered by the 'right' person when interacting on the individual basis. 

A novel message to take home from the research is to recognise the relative (family/friends) reporters, as victims of crime and provide them with victim support. Afterall, these individuals have lost a loved one to evil and are left to pick up broken pieces whilst experiencing PTSD, depression, anxiety, and being stigmatised by society. By recognising the need and providing these individuals with the care and support that they need, we may have the possibility to encourage them to come forward quicker.