About CATS















CATS combines Middlesex University expertise from the departments of Psychology (directed by Professor Antonia Bifulco) and Criminology and Sociology (directed by Professor Julia Davidson).


Researching Abuse in the Family Context

The Psychology component of the CATS centre has existed since 1990 as the Lifespan Research Group. This section is directed by Prof Bifulco, and it has a long history of researching abuse victimisation in the family context and intergenerationally, and its effect on psychological disorder in the immediate and longer term. Research programme funding over 10 years from the Medical Research Council allowed for intensive interview investigation of the causal effects of early life neglect and abuse on later experience and psychological disorder, within an Attachment framework.

Recent and ongoing projects
Prof Bifulco has recently been awarded an ESRC project grant to develop an online interview for life events and difficulties in relation to depression; problem physical health and in student experience (with KCL and Goldsmiths). Ongoing research includes Evaluating a Youth Violence Project at Guy’s St Thomas’ A&E department (Guy’s & St Thomas Trust); Action research on attachment for adolescents in residential care (St Christopher’s Fellowship); Recent projects include being a co-investigator in the Online Grooming Project (EC Safer Internet Programme, with NatCen and Belgian, Norwegian and Italian partners); Scoping parenting programmes in offender populations for the Ministry of Justice (with Policis); Developing a child attachment interview for use in child care services (St Christopher’s Fellowship) and Evaluating the use of the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse assessment in Safeguarding services (RB Kingston Safeguarding Services).

Research collaborations
Research collaborations include validations of the CECA and ASI interviews for research in Germany (University of Heidelberg) and Italy (Universities of Palermo, Rome, Padua & Florence), Sweden (University of Gothenberg), Portugal (University of Minho) as well as Japan (University of Rykeo and Kyushu) and Malayasia (University of Kebangsaan). Collaborative research into young offenders has included assessing early life abuse in juvenile sex offenders (with Prof Pham, Univerity of Mons and the Secure Hospital at Tournai, Belgium), collaborations on abusive experience in profiling serial killers (Prof Caretti, University of Rome) and improving childhood and attachment assessments for violent offenders in high security prisons (with Naomi Murphy, HMP Whitemoor). The team offers training to both researchers and practitioners in interview assessments on a regular basis. A partnership with Child and Family Training has enabled the extension of training to health and social care practitioners nationally (for more information visit our training page).

For further information on Psycho-social Research at CATS please contact Professor Antonia Bifulco a.bifulco at mdx.ac.uk.

Antonia Bifulco's full biography.


CATS Criminal justice and online abuse research

The criminal justice component of the CATS centre is directed by criminologist Julia Davidson. It seeks to research and disseminate knowledge on both offenders and victims relevant to criminal justice services and early prevention work at national and international level. A particular focus is on young people’s behaviour online, online child abuse and cybercrime. Recent substantial grants awarded to Prof Davidson  include an EC ISEC funded study in 4 EU countries exploring policing and industry practice in the investigation of online child sexual abuse and a project undertaken in collaboration with the Europol Cybercrime Centre exploring young  people’s pathways into hacking  and a project exploring policy and practice in addressing online child abuse in the MENA region funded by WeProtect. This research has informed child Internet safety policy and practice in the UK, the EU and the Middle East.

Networks and Collaborations
The unique interdisciplinary nature of the Centre allows criminological and socio-legal research to be undertaken in a vibrant academic environment  working with many key agencies and organisations, including: Interpol, the US Sentencing Commission, the UN ITU, the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the Europol Cybercrime Centre(EC3), the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (Prof Davidson chairs the Evidence Group, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; and the ICC Hague Justice Portal). We also work with many national and international academic partners.

For further information about criminal justice projects at CATS please contact  Prof Julia Davidson j.davidson at mdx.ac.uk.


CATS PhD students
Ongoing and recent PhD research includes: Attachment style and disorder in adolescents (Gabbarelli); Child trafficking identification (Dueker); Post Traumatic Stress and emotional disorder in adolescents across communities in conflict zones in Israel (Lawrence, co-funded by One-to-one Israel); The study of partner, and support relationships, attachment and depression in Taiwanese women (Chang), The study of life events, support and attachment style in Malaysian Moslem married and divorced mothers (Abdul Kadir); An exploration of legal issues and online child indecent images (Jenkins); A comparison of legal frameworks on cybercrime in the UK and UAE (Al Antali); Analysis of types of indecent child images held by the police (Aiken); Exploration of social services practice in removing children from parents (Spiwe); Exploration of the effectiveness of sex offender treatment programmes (Flinterman).



For a full list of CATS research projects please visit our Projects page.



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