Portrait of Professor Theresa Gannon

Professor Theresa Gannon

Professor of Forensic Psychology
Chartered Forensic Psychologist
Director of the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology
ECR Coordinator


Theresa's main research interests are in the areas of arson or firesetting and sexual offending.

Over the past few years Theresa has developed two empirically based standardised treatment programmes for offenders who have set fires: The Firesetting Intervention Programme for Prisoners (FIPP) and the Firesetting Intervention Programme for Mentally Disordered Offenders (FIP-MO). The FIPP has been run in South East prisons and the results of this programme are currently being evaluated. The FIP-MO is being run nationally across the UK within private hospitals and the NHS.

Theresa is interested in research examining the treatment needs and characteristics of female sexual offenders. Her research has focused on examining the offence supportive beliefs and offence styles of these women, and the specific factors that lead them to offend. 

More recently, she has begun to investigate the sexual fantasies and attachment styles of females who sexually offend.

Theresa's research on male sexual offenders is concerned with examining the offence supportive beliefs and cognitions of this population and developing methods of increasing honest disclosures in men who have sexually offended. In 2010, she and her CORE-FP colleagues won a Ministry of Justice tender to evaluate mandatory polygraph testing for sexual offenders released on license in the UK. As a result of their research new legislation was passed to allow polygraph testing for men who have sexually offended in the UK.

Research interests

  • The cognition of child molesters, rapists, and violent offenders
  • Female sex offenders
  • The rehabilitation and treatment of sexual offenders
  • Applied cognitive-experimental psychology
  • Arson and firesetting


Project supervision

Theresa is interested in supervising projects examining:

  1. Child sexual offenders
  2. Rapists
  3. Attitudes towards sexual offenders
  4. Female-perpetrated violence
  5. Arson and firesetting


Current research students

Past research students

  • Dr Helen Butler: An investigation of fire expertise, fire scripts, and fire interest in male incarcerated firesetters (2018)
  • Becky Wyatt, MPhil: The development of a risk assessment for mentally disordered firesetters (2018)
  • Dr Katarina Mozova: Towards a social psychology framework of youth group membership: An exploratory study (2nd supervisor) (2017)
  • Dr Emma Barrowcliffe: Identifying and assessing the characteristics of unapprehended fire setters living in the general population (2017)
  • Dr Magali Barnoux: Qualitative investigation of firesetting in male prisoners (2015)
  • Dr Nichola Tyler: An evaluation of mentally disordered firesetters (2015)
  • Dr Emily Blake: The social cognitions of rapists and rape prone men (2013)
  • Dr Kirsten Keown (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand) obtained her PhD in 2009. Kirsten’s PhD investigated the offence-supportive beliefs (or cognitive distortions) of male child molesters using cognitive-experimental tasks such as the lexical decision task. Email her to find out more: keownkirs@student.vuw.ac.nz.


  • Registered Forensic Practitioner Psychologist, Health Professions Council (Registration Number PYL06748).
  • Chartered Forensic Psychologist (C.Psychol Forensic), British Psychological Society, UK.
  • Consultant Forensic Psychologist, Kent Forensic Psychiatry Services, UK.

Grants and Awards

2017J. Wood (PI), T. Gannon (Co-I), C. Ó Ciardha (Co-I) & E. Alleyne (Co-I) 
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria
"Evaluating polygraph use for managing sexual offenders and suspects in five police areas"
1.7.17 to 30.6.19
2014T. Gannon
North London Clinic (Enterprise Award)
Good Lives Offender Rehabilitation Training
2014T. Gannon, C. Ó Ciardha & E. Alleyne
British Psychological Society (Enterprise Award)
Training on firesetting
2014-2015T. Gannon
Kent and Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust (Research Award)
Fire intervention programme for mentally disordered offenders
2013-2016T. Gannon
Kent and Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust (Research Award)
Development of a risk assessment tool for mentally disordered offenders
2014-2015T. Gannon
University of Kent Research Faculty Fund 
Extending the evaluation and impact of a firesetting treatment programme for mentally disordered offenders
2010-2011T. Gannon
Kent and Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust (Enterprise Award)
Arson treatment programme development
2011-2014T. Gannon 
The development and evaluation of a treatment programme for firesetters
2010-2012T. Gannon, J. Wood, A. Pina, & E. Vasquez
Ministry of Justice (Tender Bid). 
Evaluation of the Mandatory Polygraph Pilot. (SRG/09/015)
T. Gannon
British Academy
Overseas conference attendance grant
2008-2009T. Gannon
Kent and Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust (Enterprise Award)
Sexual offender treatment programme development
2007T. Gannon
Nuffield Foundation
Violent social information processing: An experimental study
2006-2008T. Gannon
What were they thinking: The cognition of women sex offenders 

Editor roles

  • 2008 – date              Associate Editor: Journal of Sexual Aggression
  • 2012 – date              Editor: Psychology, Crime and Law

Editorial board duties

  • 2013– date               Editorial Board Member: Journal of Psychiatry and Brain Functions
  • 2010 – date              Editorial Board Member: Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment
  • 2009 – date              Editorial Board Member: British Journal of Forensic Practice
  • 2009 – date              Editorial Board Member: Aggression and Violent Behavior
  • 2009 – date              Editorial Board Member: International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
  • 2007 – 2012             Editorial Board Member: The Open Criminology Journal
  • 2007 – 2008             Editorial Board Member: Journal of Sexual Aggression

Conference organisation

  • Lead Organiser for the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology Conference Launch (2010-2011)
  • Lead Conference Organiser for the British Psychological Society’s Annual Division of Forensic Psychology Conference 2010 (2009-2010)

External examining

2010-date  Doctorate in Forensic Psychology Practice, Masters in Forensic Psychology Practice, Masters in Criminological Psychology, Masters in Clinical Criminology, University of Birmingham.
2008-2012MSc in Forensic Psychology and Criminological Psychology, University of Gloucestershire.
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