INTELLIGENCE Volume 2, Issue 3, Fall 2013
Welcome to the third issue of the second volume of intelligence.
Intelligence will keep you up to date with the recent advances in threat assessment from around the globe. World leading threat assessment figures have agreed to share their knowledge and experiences and serve on the Intelligence editorial board.
We also encourage you to contribute and provide feedback.
Our latest research update, Violence triaging: Research needed, can be found in this issue, along with other research and practice news and views.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to and draw your attention to the message from Mr. Chuck Tobin in this issue. Chuck Tobin is the new president of the American Threat Assessment Association and is replacing Rachel Solov as a member on the editorial board for Intelligence.
We hope Intelligence will continue to provide a forum for you to share and develop your expertise in threat assessment.
Kelly A. Watt, PhD
Threat Assessment Specialist
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.
Violence Triaging: Research Needed
In many countries around the world every workplace has a responsibility to screen for and take reasonable steps to respond to obvious warning signs of violence risk under common law, statutory law, and professional ethics. However, there is limited guidance in research to date about what warning signs are obvious and what steps are reasonable when screening for and responding to violence risk.
The vast majority of research in this area has focused on identifying warning signs for violence risk among patients in emergency departments or inpatient psychiatry units. For example, the Broset Violence Checklist is the most extensively researched and widely known screening instrument for violence risk. It is designed to predict physical violence on inpatient psychiatric units within the next 24 hours by considering 6 warning signs (e.g., confused, irritable, boisterousness, physically threatening, verbally threatening, and attacking objects). It has been found to have satisfactory psychometric properties and to be useful for predicting imminent violence (Almvik, Woods & Rasmussen, 2000; Woods & Almvik, 2002). However, this instrument was developed for a specific setting (inpatient psychiatry units), a specific population (people with acute and serious mental health problems) and for a specific purpose (predicting imminent risk for violence).
There remains a need for additional research to inform the development of instruments to assist all workplaces to identify primary warning signs for violence across the general population and to determine what immediate actions should be taken to prevent violence. For instance, Kelly Watt, Stephen Hart, Knut Rypdal, Henrik Belfrage are currently in the process of developing a Violence Triage to meet precisely these goals. Of particular relevance to threat assessment professionals working or consulting with workplaces, the violence triage also helps to determine if there are reasonable grounds to be concerned about violence risk and if there is justification for proceeding with a violence risk assessment. Using an evidence-based process to make these decisions will help protect professionals from potential liability and protect others from future harm.
Future research is needed to examine the utility of such a tool in meeting the goals of identifying primary warning signs, determining immediate actions, prioritizing cases, and preventing violence. Preliminary research is currently in progress in the United States, Norway and Sweden and we will keep you updated about developments in this area.
NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool: A Warning from One of the Authors
A warning was recently released from Mr. John Byrnes in July 2013 that has particular relevance for teams within post secondary institutions but has important implications for all threat assessment professionals. According to Mr. Byrnes, hundreds of universities and colleges in North America are relying on the NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool to determine if individuals posed a violence risk. He clarified that it was not designed to determine if individuals pose a violence risk and was “never intended to be used as such.” He advised professionals “the use of the NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool by itself could be quite dangerous.” Mr. Byrne’s warning reinforces the importance of ensuring that the tools threat assessment professionals are using are supported by research, practice and the law, as well as by appropriate training. Threat assessment professionals may be found legally liable for errors or omissions if their actions fail to meet professional standards and result in harm to others.
Mr. Byrnes is one of the authors of the NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool, and co-owns the intellectual property rights through his organization, the Center for Aggression Management. He is not a member of NaBITA and his comments do not reflect NaBITA policy; in fact, NaBITA disagrees with his position. Readers can contact the Center for Aggression Management or NaBITA, or visit their respective websites, for further information regarding their conflicting views on the NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool.
Regardless of one’s position regarding this particular matter, it is critical that threat assessment is supported by professional standards and consistent with best practices in the field. Thus, those conducting threat assessments should ensure that: (1) the risk factors they consider are supported by research (e.g., show statistical, empirical or predictive associations with violence), practice (e.g., have theoretical or practical relevance for professionals), and the law (e.g., are judged as reasonable, logical, or fair); and, (2) the risk assessment tools they use are designed to prevent violence by guiding and coordinating action, as well as to increase accountability and protect the rights of others by improving transparency and consistency of assessment and management decisions.
The threat assessment associations around the world–AATAP, AETAP, ATAP and CATAP–have all recognized the importance of developing standards related to assessing and managing violence risk and are in the process of engaging in important discussions related to training, accreditation, and certification in this area. (For an example, see the message below from ATAP President, Chuck Tobin).
Internet Sex Offending
The digital age has introduced new challenges for those assessing and managing sexual offenders. Internet Sex Offenders, a new book by Dr. Michael Seto, provides a wide window into the disturbing world of online sex crimes. With this book, Dr. Seto builds upon his impressive body of work in sex offender research, and clearly establishes himself as one of the world’s foremost experts in internet sex crimes. The book begins with a very useful overview of the myriad ways in which offenders use the internet to produce, view, and distribute illegal pornography, and to lure vulnerable victims. He also summarizes the research on the characteristics of online offenders and their similarities and differences with more traditional contact sexual offenders. Importantly, he directly addresses the controversial issue of the connection between online and contact sexual offending; he painstakingly reviews the correlational, longitudinal, and experimental research to address this question. The book also contains an illuminating chapter on intervention with internet offenders.
Dr. Seto includes a chapter on the assessment of risk with online offenders. He reviews the literature on sex offender risk assessment, tending to focus on the role of actuarial measures, and neglecting to mention well established structured professional judgement instruments such as the SVR-20 and RSVP and how such measures could be used with internet offenders. He then discusses the implications of mainstream sexual violence literature for assessing risk in online offenders. He also reviews the existing — albeit limited — literature on risk assessment with internet offenders and acknowledges the limitations of using existing risk measures for such cases. For example, he concludes, “It is not yet clear how to proceed in the risk assessment of pornography offenders with no history of contact or attempted contact offending” (p. 203). He suggests that more research is needed in this area, and he proposes the development of a new risk measure. Finally, with respect to risk and recidivism, Dr. Seto observes an apparent paradox: He notes that existing research indicates that pedophilia has a robust association with sex offending recidivism, yet child pornography offenders have a relatively low recidivism rate. Such observations have clear implications for threat assessment. However, Dr. Seto repeatedly cautions that more research is needed in this area to further understand the full course and nature of internet sexual offending.
Seto, M. C. (2013). Internet sex offenders. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Industry Association News
Association of Threat Assessment Professionals
Message and Conference Recap from President Chuck Tobin
The 23rd Annual Conference of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP) once again offered attendees an excellent opportunity to learn and network amongst other professionals. Held in Disneyland, Anaheim, California, this conference has continued to see growth year after year. Passing previous attendance records, this year’s conference attendance of over 650 attendees created excellent opportunities to network with a wide variety of professionals in the threat assessment and management community. Speakers from the U.S., Australia, and Germany took the stage to create one of the strongest lineups to date. Outstanding presentations included the keynote speech by Andre Simons, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI and a standing ovation for Special Agent Perry Woo of Homeland Security Investigations. Additional tracks during the introductory and advanced sessions as well as general sessions provided insight into school violence, stalking, workplace violence and a variety of other related topics. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Mario Scalora, University of Nebraska and the Meritorious Service Award was presented to Richard Chapman, of Ralph Lauren.
This conference also represented the beginning of the transition in leadership for the organization. As Association President Rachel Solov ends her second term and passes the torch to incoming Association President Chuck Tobin, the Association continues its forward momentum. Serving two two-year terms as Association President, Rachel Solov leaves behind a legacy. Her efforts to strengthen the organization financially during global economic crisis are one sign of her dedication to the post. Key initiatives include the creation of the Certification Committee, of which she will now assume the reigns as committee Chair. Jim Cawood will remain on as the Co-Chair of the committee. This committee has worked tirelessly over the past few years to create the foundation to a certification in violence risk assessment.
ATAP has crafted a plan to reach new heights in the coming years with the anticipated launch of our certification program in the coming years, emerging new chapters in the United States, strengthening of our International Relations Committee as well as a dedicated focus on our training endeavors. Andre Simons will take the lead on the newly energized Training Committee to improve content delivery methods as well as outreach to the community. The newly elected Association Board includes some familiar faces to the organization and represents the outstanding volunteer leadership for which ATAP has long been known. Members include Pat Prince, 1st Vice President; Andre Simons, 2nd Vice President; Rich Chapman, Treasurer; David Okada, Secretary; and Dr. Russell Palarea, Sgt. of Arms.
We hope to see you all at the upcoming Spring Regional Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, USA from March 31st – April 2nd, 2014 and our annual Threat Management Conference in Anaheim, California, from August 12th-15th, 2014. Speaker proposals and registration information will be available on our website in the near future (www.atapworldwide.org).
Official Release of the PATRIARCH
The Assessment of Risk for Honour Based Violence, also known as the PATRIARCH, developed by Drs. Randall Kropp, Henrik Belfrage, and Stephen Hart, are structured professional judgment (SPJ) guidelines designed for use by law enforcement, criminal justice, security, child protection, school, post-secondary institution, and mental health personnel. The PATRIARCH builds on the authors’ related work on violence risk assessment, most notably the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment guide (SARA), the Brief Spousal Assault Form for the Evaluation of Risk (B-SAFER), and the Guidelines for Stalking Assessment and Management (SAM). The PATRIARCH is the first published comprehensive risk assessment procedure for honour based violence, which is defined as any actual, attempted or threatened physical harm that is motivated, at least in part, by beliefs about honour.
The PATRIARCH manual and worksheet are now available from ProActive ReSolutions (www.proactive-resolutions.com).
Study Participation Request: Treatment of Psychopathic and Borderline Personality Disorders
Request by Ashely Murray, M.A., (Principle Investigator) and Stephen Hart, PhD. (Supervisor/Co-Investigator), Simon Fraser University
I am conducting an online survey about clinician’s experiences and attitudes regarding the treatment of psychopathic personality disorder (PPD; also known as psychopathy, sociopathy, dissocial personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder) and borderline personality disorder (BPD; also known as borderline personality, emotionally unstable personality disorder).
If you choose to participate in this study, you will be asked, via an electronic survey, a series of questions about your clinical training, attitudes and experiences working as a therapist-clinician with either a PPD or BPD patient. You will also be asked about a personality disordered patient you have treated (one with a diagnosis of PPD or BPD) therapeutically. You will provide only basic, non-identifying demographic information about the patient in addition to data on the patient’s symptoms and the strategies you employed to treat him/her. Finally you will be asked about the therapeutic outcomes of your patient.
This is an anonymous web-based survey and thus you will not be providing your name at any point.
Your participation will help to identify some potentially useful strategies for treating specific PPD and BPD symptoms or symptom clusters.
Participants who complete the survey can choose to enter a draw to win one of four $50 gift cards or one of 20 $10 gift cards to online shopping venues; this is completely voluntary.
The survey takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Please click on the link below to access this survey.
If you have any questions, please email Ashley Murray at: [email protected]
Events in Europe
HCR-20 Version 3 Workshops
October 21-22, 2013
Cardiff City Centre
November 25-26, 2013
London City Centre
November, 28-29, 2013
Bristol City Centre
Association of European Threat Assessment Professionals
April 7-11, 2014
Events in Canada
Private Investigators Association of British Columbia
October 25-26, 2013
Victoria, British Columbia
Canadian Association of Threat Assessment Professionals
October 26-30, 2013
Violence Risk Assessment and Management for Post Secondary Institutions Workshop
January 27-31, 2014
Vancouver, British Columbia
International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services
June 19-22, 2014 Toronto, Ontario
Events in Australia
Australasian Association of Threat Assessment Professionals
November 14-16, 2013
Events in USA
Specialized Training Services
Campus and School Violence Threat Management
February 19, 2014
Specialized Training Services
Advanced Threat Assessment and Threat Management
February 20-21, 2014
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Mid Sweden University
Vancouver Police Department/ President, CATAP
Stephen D. Hart
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.
Fixated Threat Assessment Centre
- Randy Kropp
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.
- Reid Meloy
Operational Consulting International, Inc.
University of Virginia
James R. P. Ogloff
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ontario Provincial Police
Heriot Watt University
AT-RISK International / President, ATAP
Bram van der Meer
Black Swan Forensics / President, AETAP
Kelly A. Watt
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.
Code Black Threat Management / President, AATAP