School of Medicine
  • Print

Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology

Back to division homepage

Image of Birgit Vollm

Birgit Vollm

Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences


  • workRoom B18 Institute of Mental Health Building, University of Nottingham, Triumph Road, Nottingham, NG7 2TU
    Jubilee Campus
    Wollaton Road
    NG8 1BB
  • work0115 823 1266


Birgit Völlm is a Professor in Forensic Psychiatry and an Honorary Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist in the Peaks Unit (Enhanced High Secure Service for Personality Disorders), Rampton Hospital. She is the Head of the Section for Forensic Mental Health in the Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology.

After studying medicine in Germany and working in psychiatry and neurology in Switzerland and Germany, she came to Oxford in 1999 where she completed her basic psychiatric training. She then moved to Manchester to complete her specialist training in forensic psychiatry and her PhD "The neurobiology of impulsivity and social cognition in antisocial individuals" as a Walport Academic Clinical Lecturer.

She has been in Nottingham since 2008. She was awarded a personal Chair in 2015. Her main research interests include the neurobiology of antisocial personality disorders and social cognition, treatment of personality disorders, effectiveness of interventions, evaluation of forensic-psychiatric services and the comparison between service delivery in different European countries. She is the Chair of the Forensic Section of the European Psychiatric Association and the Secretary of the Forensic Section of the World Psychiatric Association.

Outside work Prof Völlm is a keen traveller, aiming to visit all 193 countries by the age of 80 (88 done so far!).

Expertise Summary

  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Personality disorders

Teaching Summary

Prof Völlm teaches on personality disorders and forensic psychiatry on the Masters in Mental Health Research and the Forensic Psychology Doctorate course at the University of Nottingham.

She also teaches undergraduates and provides student placement in secure care and research.

She currently supervises six PhD student, five Forensic Doctorate students, one Master student and a number of trainee doctors for their special interest in research.

In the past Prof Völlm taught on forensic psychiatry to colleagues in Sri Lanka through a WHO supported project as well as on interviewing skills at the Charite, Berlin.

Research Summary

Dr Völlm's main areas of research interest are:

  • Neurobiology of antisocial personality disorders
  • Neurobiology of social cognition (Theory of mind, empathy, moral judgement)
  • Treatment of personality disorders
  • Service evaluation of forensic-psychiatric care
  • Comparative mental health legislation and policy
  • Ethical issues and use of coercion in forensic psychiatry
  • Systematic reviews

Current projects

Externally funded projects

  • British Council - Institutional link (Egypt) - 'Long Term Incarcerated Patients in Forensic Settings: Role of Research in Socioeconomic Enhancement (LIFE)' - 2016 - 18 (Principal Investigator)
  • Ministry of Justice - 'Evaluation of Woman's Personality Disorder Offender Pathway' - 2016 - 2018 (Co-Investigator)
  • ESCR Impact Accelerator Fund - 'Improving engagement of carers of mentally disordered offenders in research, evaluation and service development through information exchange and network building' - 2016 - 17 (Principal Investigator)
  • NIHR CLAHRC EM PhD studentship 'Effectiveness of High Secure Hospital Care' - 2015 - 2018 (Primary supervisor)
  • NIHR CLAHRC EM PhD studentship 'Mental health in old age in forensic settings' - Student fees and stipend - 2015 - 2018 (Primary supervisor)
  • ESRC PhD studentship 'Policies and care pathways in forensic-psychiatric care: Patient experience in two European countries' - 2015 - 2018 (Primary supervisor)
  • National Institute of Health Research, Research for patient benefit - 'Individual Placement and Support (IPS) for patients with offending histories - feasibility of an evidence-based approach in forensic mental health settings' - 2015 - 2018 (Co-Investigator)
  • European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) - 'Towards an EU research framework on Forensic psychiatric care' - 2013 - 2018 (Co-Investigator)
  • National Institute of Health Research, Service Delivery and Organisation - 'Characteristics and needs of long-stay patients in high and medium forensic-psychiatric care: Implications for service organisation' - 2013 - 2016 (Principal Investigator)
  • Bundesministerium für Forschung und Technologie (Germany) - 'Systematic review and meta-analysis of psychosocial interventions for self-harm in adolescents' - 2014 - 2016 (Co-Investigator)

Other / internally funded projects

  • Cochrane reviews of the effectiveness of pharmacological and psychological interventions in personality disorder
  • Follow up study of and maintenance of a large database of approximately 1000 patients discharged from a medium secure setting
  • Evaluation of the impact of Circles of Support and Accountability for sex offenders released into the community
  • Effects of Repetitive Transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on two different neuropsychological measures of impulsivity (PhD project)

Selected Publications

  • Secretary of the Forensic Section of the World Psychiatric Association (since 2014)
  • Chair of the Forensic Section of the European Psychiatric Association (since 2012)
  • Chair of Research & Evaluation Group of the charity Circles UK (since 2009)
  • Member of the NICE guideline development group - Violence and Aggression (2013-2015)
  • Member of the National Institute for Health Research East Midlands RfPB panel (2009 -2014)

Past Research

Externally funded projects

  • 2013 - 15 European Commission Daphne programme - 'Circles 4U' (Co-Investigator)
  • 2012 - 13 National Institute of Health Research, Programme Development Grant 'Improving outcomes for high risk offenders with severe personality disorder through an enhanced NHS/National Offender Management alliance (IONNA)' (Co-Investigator)
  • 2010 - 13 ESRC Case PhD studentship 'Use of Coercive and Restrictive Measures in In-Patient Forensic Settings: Association with Staff Attitudes and Ward Atmosphere' - Student fees and stipend (Secondary supervisor)
  • 2010 - 12 British Council: Higher Education Partnership Iraq (Principal Investigator)
  • 2010 - 11 Ministry of Justice (contract tender): 'Reducing Reoffending - Offenders with Personality Disorder' (Co-Investigator)

Other / internally funded projects

  • Effects of oxytocin on social cognition and neuronal correlates in healthy males, an fMRI study
  • Neuronal correlates of moral judgement and emotional regulation in healthy individuals using fMRI and EEG
  • The relationship between clinical outcome measures and neuropsychological function in personality disordered patients in a medium secure unit
  • Change of faith in patients in a high secure setting

Future Research

  • In the future Prof Völlm plans to conduct studies investigating the therapeutic application of recent neurobiological findings in personality disorders, including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), biofeedback and pharmacological interventions (oxytocin)
  • In addition she plans to continue with the evaluation of forensic services, in particular cross-country and to contribute to the development of forensic case registers, both locally and nationally
  • She is also interested in exploring the applicability of primary prevention approaches ('Dunkelfeld') in sexual offending against children

School of Medicine

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Nottingham, NG7 2UH

Contacts: Please see our 'contact us' page for further details