INTELLIGENCE Volume 2, Issue 2, July 2013: Responding to Threats in a University Setting

INTELLIGENCE Volume 2, Issue 2, Summer 2013

Welcome to the second 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, Responding to Threats in a University Setting, can be found in this issue, along with other research and practice news and views.

We hope Intelligence will continue to provide a forum for you to share and develop your expertise in threat assessment.
Sincerely,

Kelly A. Watt, PhD
Threat Assessment Specialist
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.

 

Latest Research

Responding to Threats in a University Setting
Update by Dr. P. Randall Kropp

High profile shootings on college and university campuses in recent years have certainly raised awareness of the risk of violence in these settings. In response, post-secondary institutions have established interdisciplinary threat assessment teams (TATs) to deal with threatening and violent situations. This is a positive development, but many of these teams are in their infancy, with unclear mandates regarding when, where, and how to respond to potentially violent situations. Further, there is little empirical data in existence to help guide TATs form clear policies. Cao and colleagues have helped remedy this situation with a study of the characteristics commonly found in threat assessment events at the University of Iowa, and an analysis of the association of those characteristics with TAT response decisions.

Cao et al. describe the workings of a TAT by analyzing 284 threatening events occurring at the university between August 2008 and December 2010. The researchers gathered: (a) demographic data on the individuals involved in conflict; (b) case characteristics, including contributing factors and referral sources; and (c) case processing information, including response decisions, follow-up activities and final status. The majority of the threateners were male students (as opposed to employees or visitors) of the university, and the incidents were equally divided between threats to self and others. The most common victim-subject relationship was intimate partner (30%), followed by employee-employer (11%), and friends/acquaintances (10%). Roughly two-thirds of the cases were deemed serious enough to require “intervention” from the TAT as opposed to “consultation.”

Regression analyses were used to examine the characteristics “predicting” whether a case required intervention or consultation. Characteristics associated with a decision to intervene included alcohol/drug involvement, a history of mental health problems, and a criminal history, a finding that is very consistent with the violence risk literature in general. Further, as the number of “contributing factors” increased, so did the likelihood of a TAT intervention. Also consistent with the general violence risk literature, male subjects and those with criminal histories were more likely to represent an external threat; females, and those with mental health problems were more likely to threaten self-harm.

Overall, the findings provide useful descriptive information regarding the threatening situations likely to be encountered in post-secondary settings, and offer clues regarding what factors might prompt more intensive and proactive responses by TATs. It is an important study, but more research is needed in this area. In particular, future efforts should investigate the process, methods, and tools used to assess and manage threats in post-secondary settings. TATs will need to demonstrate that their methods and interventions are defensible (i.e., best practice), valid, and preventative.

Cao, Y., Yang, J., Ramirez, M., & Peek-Asa, C. (2013). Characteristics of workplace threats requiring response from a university threat assessment team. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 55(1), 45-51.

 

Practice Update

Calgary Domestic Conflict Response Team
Update by Sergeant Kevin Zeh

In its fourth year, the Calgary Domestic Conflict Response Team (DCRT) is celebrating tremendous success with its approach to reducing family violence in the city. Made up of police officers with the Calgary Police Service (CPS), members of Child and Family Services Alberta, HomeFront, and Closer to Home, this unique partnership aims to intervene in high-risk domestic conflict cases and offer assistance before the courts become involved.

The CPS responds to over 13,000 domestic-related calls every year, with almost half of those involving families with children. The DCRT focuses on domestic conflict situations where no charges have been laid, but the case is considered chronic or high risk as indicated by repeat or escalating violence. By bringing together intervention services, the DCRT is maximizing the response to a single call for help, offering a range of services and support in a timely manner.

Officially launched in October 2009, the DCRT has worked on more than 600 cases involving both adults and children. The DCRT targets any domestic situation where there are children in a home and family stability concerns are significant. By intervening earlier, the DCRT is able to reduce the likelihood that families will require crisis response in the future. The program is not only about saving families, but also about breaking the cycle of violence.

Recidivism rates since the inception of the program show that more than 65 per cent of DCRT cases had no further domestic conflict incidents involving police.
The DCRT gives families the opportunity and support to stop the domestic conflict and live safe peaceful lives.

For more information about the Domestic Conflict Crisis Response Team contact Sergeant Kevin Zeh with the Calgary Police Service at KZeh@calgarypolice.ca.

 

Legal Update

Professional responsibility and legal liability of mental health professionals conducting threat assessments
Update by Dr. Kelly Watt

A psychiatrist in France was recently found criminally responsible of involuntary homicide after her patient escaped from hospital and, while still at large 20 days later, killed an 80-year-old man with an axe. A court determined that the psychiatrist made several mistakes in the course of caring for her patient, including not taking appropriate steps to assess and manage the patient’s risk for violence, that ultimately led to the victim’s death.

In many countries around the world, mental heath professionals are legally required to identify and respond to obvious signs of violence. Mental heath professionals may be held liable if they fail to do so in a way that meet standards or practice and is a proximal cause of harm to others. There have been many cases in countries around the world in which mental health professionals have been found liable under civil law, but to the best of our knowledge this is one of the first cases in which a professional has been found liable under criminal law. And although the case occurred in France, it may be a sign of things to come in other jurisdictions.

The son of the victim applauded the court’s guilty verdict in this case, saying he hoped the tragedy would help to improve the practice of psychiatry. France is certainly not the only country in which improvements are needed. For example, recent surveys of professionals practicing in acute psychiatry units in the United States (Foellmi, Rosenfeld & Rotter, 2013) and Canada (Watt, Levy, and Kidd, 2013) found that unstructured clinical judgment was used to make decisions regarding violence risk in the vast majority of cases, perhaps as many as 85% to 95%. Other research indicates that structured violence risk assessment can be implemented in acute psychiatry units in a way that substantially improves practice and requires minimal resources (Rypdal & Hoff, 2013; Smith & White, 2007). Findings such as these suggest that changes in the education, training, and practice of mental health professionals are urgently needed to protect public health and safety, as well as to minimize exposure to liability—and they also suggest that there are no good excuses to avoid making such changes.
For the original article see http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/world-europe-20774516.

Foellmi, M., Rosenfeld, B., & Rotter, M. (2013, May). Background and context: Developing a violence risk screening tool. Paper presented at the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Service Conference, 2013, Maastricht, Holland.

Rypdal, K., Hoff, H., & Gjestad R. (2013, May). Triage for Bergen. Paper presented at the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Service Conference, 2013, Maastricht, Holland.

Smith, H., & White, T. (2007). Feasibility of a structured risk assessment tool in general adult psychiatry admissions. The Psychiatrist, 31, 418- 420. [doi: 10.1192/pb.bp.106.012518]

Watt, K. A., Levy, J. M., & Kidd, C. (2012, October). Violence risk assessment and management practices in inpatient psychiatry units. Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on Violence in the Health Sector, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

 

Industry Association News

Australasian Association of Threat Assessment Professionals
Message from President Lisa Warren

AATAP is now full swing into another busy year. We are preparing for the 3rd annual AATAP conference, which this year will focus on multidisciplinary threat management. We have set the conference dates for November 14 and 15, with a pre-conference workshop to be held on November 13. Our conference will again be in gorgeous downtown Melbourne. 2014 will see us venture interstate and we are very excited that our major sponsor, Microsoft, will host our 2015 conference in Singapore. Our Singapore meeting will be even more special as it will be AATAP’s turn to host the International Relations Summit, a meeting that promotes the alliances between the four TAP’s.

AATAP plans to host its annual conference in November each year to fit well with the conferences of AETAP in April, ATAP in August and CATAP in October. We are hoping that our conference will provide the opportunity to bring together delegates from across the Southern Hemisphere and extend a warm invitation to our colleagues from ATAP, CATAP and AETAP.

Threat management as a discipline is developing quickly in this part of the world. Police forces, military agencies, the university sector and private industry are adopting threat management practices to help them recognize, assess and manage problematic behaviours that indicate ongoing risk. This enthusiasm has occurred in the context of several Australian researchers producing world-leading findings in the fields of stalking risk management, assessment of explicit threats, management of risks to public figures and violence risk assessment.

Our Executive Committee for 2013 consists of myself, Associate Professor of Criminology Wayne Petherick, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist Dr. Rachel MacKenzie, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist Dr. Jennifer McCarthy, Lead Analyst for the West Australian Police Sheila Willis, Senior Forensic Psychiatrist and Associate Professor Michele Pathé, Security Specialist Mr. Geoff Brown, and Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Allnut. This highly esteemed group brings an impressive level of experience and enthusiasm to the development of AATAP.

In addition to our annual conference, AATAP has begun developing a range of professional education seminars and support academic research in the fields of stalking and threat management. If you are considering a trip to our region and might be interested in presenting to our members please contact us on AustralasianATAP@gmail.com.

Association of European Threat Assessment Professionals
Conference Recap Message from Executive Board Member Mr. Totti Karpela

The historic and beautiful city of Vienna, Austria was the location for 6th annual European Threat Assessment Professionals Conference. The city is famous for many things, but for the conference participants perhaps the most important historical fact about the city is that it is the home to the famous neurologist and founding father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. This year we managed to gather 80 professionals representing various fields, 16 nationalities, and 3 continents to join our conference. A special thank you should be addressed to the Vienna Police Threat Management Unit, who played a major role as a sponsor and provided us with the conference facility and other practical arrangements.

On Monday the conference participants had a possibility of attending a domestic violence prevention seminar, organized by the city of Vienna. The location was none other than the incredibly beautiful city hall, Vienna Rathaus. The seminar included 2 panel discussions about domestic violence risk assessment and domestic violence interventions presented by both local and international experts in the field.

From Tuesday to Thursday the participants had the chance to listen to 15 different presentations with fantastic speakers. The topics covered were related to terrorism, workplace violence, cultural difference in threat assessment and management, insider threat, corporate security and behavioral indicators in threat assessment. One of the most fascinating topics was the introduction of the Multi-Level Guidelines (MLG) that is currently being developed for the assessment and management of group-based violence.

The gala dinner took place at Zum Martin Sepp, a very traditional Austrian restaurant, and based on the level of noise and the reluctance of people to leave the restaurant at the end of the evening, we can only pat ourselves on the back about the amount of networking that took place at the dinner.

Professor emeritus, Dr. Paul Mullen, was the sole speaker on Friday, the final day of the conference, and we had the biggest crowd in our history with nearly 40 participants joining the presentation. Dr. Mullen’s presentation covered the topic of abnormally persistent and querulous complainers.

Overall, this was a great conference in Europe and thank you to all participants that made the event so nice.

 

Product Updates

Release Date Announced for the Multi-Level Guidelines

The Multi-Level Guidelines (MLG) for the assessment and management of group-based violence is currently undergoing development. Group-based violence (GBV) is defined as actual, attempted, or threatened physical injury that is deliberate and nonconsensual by an individual whose decisions and behavior are influenced by a group to which they currently belong or with which they are affiliated. Groups captured by this definition include all major violence groups, such as gangs, organized crime, terrorist organizations, violent extremist groups, groups condoning honor-based violence, freeman sovereign citizens, and cults/new religious movements. Existing methods of risk assessment have limited applicability to individuals who identify with major groups. This limitation is a result of the unique influences groups have on an individual’s behavior that are not routinely considered in existing methods (Borum, 2012; Horgan, 2011; Pynchon & Borum, 1999). The MLG, coauthored by Alana Cook, Dr. Stephen Hart, and Dr. Randall Kropp, was developed as an analytical tool to bridge individual- and group-level assessment for assessing and managing group-based violence. The MLG is intended to guide comprehensive, management-oriented assessment of group-based violence by specialists.

A draft version of the MLG has been developed and is undergoing validation. The validation of the MLG is supported by the Strategic Policy Branch of Public Safety Canada; the Social Science, Humanities, and Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada; the Mental Health, Law, and Policy Institute (MHLPI) at Simon Fraser University; and ProActive ReSolutions, Inc.

In Spring 2013 the authors trained over 40 threat assessment professionals across Canada on the draft version of the MLG for the purpose of researching the reliability of the tool and for obtaining feedback from specialists. The research results are positive, showing that the MLG is a useful and reliable tool for the assessment and management of group-based violence. For a copy of the research results contact Alana Cook (alanac@sfu.ca) or the Public Safety Canada webpage (forthcoming Fall 2013).

The draft manual will undergo revisions based on the research results and the final versions of the manual and worksheet are expected to be available in the spring of 2014. Information about obtaining the MLG and related training opportunities can be found through ProActive ReSolutions Inc. (see: www.proactive-resolutions.com).

 

Special Announcements

Official Release of HCR-20 Version 3

We are pleased to announce that the HCR-20 Version 3 was officially launched in April 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The HCR-20 is the worlds most widely used tool for assessing and managing violence risk.

The HCR-20 is a set of guidelines for comprehensive violence risk assessment and management based on the Structured Professional Judgment (SPJ) model. It is used in correctional, forensic, and civil psychiatric settings worldwide, and is increasingly being used by health care, post secondary, and workplace settings. Version 3 of the HCR-20 builds upon the success of Versions 1 and 2, which have been translated into 20 languages and adopted or evaluated in more than 35 countries. Subjected to clinical beta testing and empirical evaluation, Version 3 promises to be even more clinically useful than its predecessors.

See the HCR-20 website for more information about Version 3 (http://www.hcr-20.com) and see below for opportunities to learn about the HCR-20 Version 3 from the authors.

New Research Opportunity

Clinicians can participate in an important online survey by Ashley Murray and Stephen Hart on perspectives on the treatment of psychopathic and borderline personality disorders.
For more information email amurray@sfu.ca and to participate go to https://cgi.sfu.ca/~hart/cgi-bin/rws5.cgi?FORM=PersonalitySurvey .

Upcoming CATAP Conference Speakers

The line up for speakers for the upcoming CATAP conference has just been announced and will include speakers such as Mr. Ted Bouskill, Mr. Brian Van Brunt, Ms. Laura Burke, Dr. Alberto Choy, Ms. Michèle Collinson, Dr. Wendy Craig, Dr. Stephen Hart, Dr. Reid Meloy, Ms. Maria Ramirez, Dr. Mario Scalora, Dr. David Tano, and Dr. Kelly Watt. For the full brochure go to www.catap.org.

 

Upcoming Events

Association of Threat Assessment Professionals
Annual Conference

August 13-16, 2013
Anaheim, California
Learn more

Assessing Threats and Violence Risk in the Workplace with the WAVR-21

August 12, 2013
Anaheim, California
Learn more

ProActive ReSolutions
HCR-20 Version 3 Workshops

Basic Workshops

September 16-17, 2013
Bristol City Centre

October 21-22, 2013
Cardiff City Centre

November 25-26, 2013
London City

Advanced Workshops

September 19-20, 2013
Leeds City Centre

October, 24-25, 2013
Belfast City Centre

November, 28-29, 2013
Bristol City Centre
Learn more

Campus and School Violence Threat Management

September 25, 2013
Portland, Oregon
Learn more

Advanced Threat Assessment and Threat Management

September 26-27, 2013
Portland, Oregon
Learn more

Canadian Association of Threat Assessment Professionals
Annual Conference

October 26-30, 2013
Banff, Alberta
Learn more

Australasian Association of Threat Assessment Professionals

Annual Conference.

November 14-16, 2013
Melbourne, Australia

Violence Risk Assessment and Management for Post Secondary Institutions Workshop
ProActive ReSolutions

January 27-31, 2014
Vancouver, British Columbia
Learn more

Association of European Threat Assessment Professionals 

Annual Conference

April 7-11, 2014
Stockholm, Sweden

International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services
Annual Meeting

June 19-22, 2014
Toronto, Ontario
Learn more

 

Contribute

We welcome ideas for contributions from all readers.

E-mail your suggestions to the editor (kwatt@proactive-resolutions.com)
or associate editor (rkropp@proactive-resolutions.com)
.

Provide Feedback

Let us know what you like, what you want to read more about, or what you hope to see in the future.

Email your feedback to the editor (kwatt@proactive-resolutions.com) or associate editor (rkropp@proactive-resolutions.com).

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EDITORIAL BOARD

Henrik Belfrage
Mid Sweden University

Keith Hammond
Vancouver Police Department / President, CATAP

Stephen D. Hart
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.

David James
Fixated Threat Assessment Centre

P. Randall Kropp
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.

J. Reid Meloy
Forensis, Inc.

Kris Mohandie
Operational Consulting International, Inc.

John Monahan
University of Virginia

James R. P. Ogloff
Monash University

Mario Scalora
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Glenn Sheil
Ontario Provincial Police

Lorraine Sheridan
Heriot Watt University

Rachel Solov
San Diego County / President, ATAP

Bram van der Meer
Black Swan Forensics / President, AETAP

Kelly A. Watt
ProActive ReSolutions Inc.