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predicting future violence among individuals with psychopathy

The question of whether or not individuals should be released from mental health institutions generates huge public interest, despite the fact that people with mental health problems are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it. Mental health trusts use controversial tools created by psychiatrists to predict future violent behaviour, and increasingly these tools are also used in the probation system. In the US experts are even brought in to predict future violent behaviour and determine how long the sentence should be.

However, these controversial tools have been coming under increased scrutiny and there are concerns over whether, at worst, they are being used to make claims that cannot be supported and, at best, are wasting already limited resources.

  • Are we actually able to predict violent behaviour with any accuracy? If not, why not?
  • Is it likely that people will have been either wrongly released or wrongly prevented from being released?
  • What are the rules and regulations and do we need to change them as new research comes to light?
  • What do we do if we cannot predict future behaviour?



Prof Jeremy Coid, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Director of Forensic Psychiatry Research Unit, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London 

Dr Seena Fazel, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford and Honorary Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist

Dr Fin Larkin, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Broadmoor Hospital

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