What is the pattern of self-harm and prison rule-breaking behaviour in personality disordered offenders in a high secure prison?

Publication Date06 Nov 2017
AuthorClaire de Motte,Di Bailey,Melanie Hunter,Alice L. Bennett
SubjectHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Criminal psychology,Sociology,Sociology of crime & law,Deviant behaviour,Public policy & environmental management,Policing,Criminal justice
What is the pattern of self-harm and
prison rule-breaking behaviour in
personality disordered offenders
in a high secure prison?
Claire de Motte, Di Bailey, Melanie Hunter and Alice L. Bennett
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe the pattern of self-harm (SH) and proven prison rule-breaking
(PRB) behaviour in prisoners receiving treatment for personality disorders (PDs) within a high security prison.
Design/methodology/approach A comparative quantitative case stud y design supported the
understanding of the frequency and pattern of SH and PRB behaviour across two stages of a PD
treatment programme for 74 male prisoners. Data obtained from the prisons records were analysed using
dependent t-tests, χ
test of independence and time-frequency analyses.
Findings Inferential statistics showed that the frequency of SH and PRB behaviour statistically increased
across two phases of the PD treatment programme; however, the method of SH or type of PRB behaviour
engaged in did not change. Mapping the frequencies of incidents using a time-frequency analysis shows the
patterns of both behaviours to be erratic, peaking in the latter phase of treatment, yet the frequency of
incidents tended to decline over time.
Originality/value This is the first study to explore SH and PRB behaviours in men across two phases of a
PD treatment programme. This study highlights the need for continued psychological support alongside the
PD treatment programme with a focus on supporting men in treatment to effectively manage their SH and
PRB behaviour.
Keywords Prison, Self-harm, Personality disorder, High secure, Personality disorder treatment service (PDTS),
Prison rule breaking, High security
Paper type Research paper
The UK male prison population continue to include an overrepresentation of offenders with a
personality disorder (PD) (Coid et al., 2006). In 1998, figures reported 64 per cent of male
sentenced prisoners met criteria for at least one PD subtype (Singleton et al., 1998) and four
years later this figure increased to 65 per cent (Fazel and Danesh, 2002). With such a high
proportion of offenders meeting criteria for a PD classification, the need for HM prison service to
effectively manage and successfully treat offenders with PD is greater than ever. Yet, evidence
suggests treating offenders who display both personality difficulties and criminogenic needs is
challenging due to low treatment readiness, low responsivity and high treatment dropout rates
(Chalker et al., 2015; Howells et al., 2007; Minoudis et al., 2012).
Such complexities are exacerbated by offenders with complex personality difficulties who
engage in behaviour that may pose serious harm to self (i.e. self-harm (SH) and/or suicide) and/or
others (Department of Health and National Offender Management Service Offender Personality
Disorder Team, 2011; Joseph and Benefield, 2010; Maden et al., 2000). This creates further
challenges for the Criminal Justice Service (CJS) to achieve their fundamental aim of reducing
risk to self and/or others (Freestone et al., 2015).
Received 25 January 2017
Revised 26 April 2017
Accepted 5 May 2017
Dr Clairede Motte is a Research
Fellow at Social Work and
Health, School of Social
Sciences, Nottingham Trent
University, Nottingham, UK.
Di Bailey is the Associate Dean
for Research at the School of
Social Sciences, Nottingham
Trent University, Nottingham, UK.
Melanie Hunter is a Senior
Psychologist and Research
Lead at HMP Frankland,
Westgate PD Treatment
Service, The Westgate Unit,
HMP Frankland, Durham, UK.
Alice L. Bennett is a Chartered
and Registered Psychologist at
the Department of Psychology,
HMP Frankland, Durham, UK.
DOI 10.1108/JCP-01-2017-0004 VOL. 7 NO. 4 2017, pp. 287-301, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829
PAG E 28 7

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