Countering the fixated threat

Photo by Flickr user ashley.adcox. Click for sourceI’ve just found this interesting 2007 article on the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre, a combined unit of the British Police and health service that attempts to divert disturbed and potentially dangerous stalkers to mental health services before they attempt violence.

[Psychiatrist] David James – whose research helped to found the centre, and who now co-directs it – outlines its mission: ‘We have discovered that letters written to prominent individuals can be a powerful tool in detecting people suffering from untreated psychotic illness,’ he says.

But FTAC isn’t just about preventing murders that haven’t yet occurred, and is much less about protecting the powerful by using psychiatrists’ powers to detain patients under the Mental Health Act. Its real innovation is to marry crime prevention with a new way of finding and helping those with therapeutic needs:

‘This is an area where the interests of security and public health overlap,’ James says. ‘We’re not just providing protection: we’re helping to find care and treatment for those whose lives are being destroyed by untreated mental illness.’ Some of the patients first identified by FTAC, James says, are now leading ‘functional and relatively normal’ lives.

We’ve featured research from the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre before on Mind Hacks, when we discussed a recent study on ‘a classification of royal stalkers’.

As the article notes, the centre seems to have caused some controversy when it opened with news reports concerned that it would some sort of shadowy persecutor of oddballs and the obsessed.

For reasons that don’t seem entirely clear, it’s recently been the focus of interest from two British members of parliament who asked various written questions about the centre. You can read their questions and the answers provided by the government online which are another useful source of information about the service.

Link to Observer article on the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre.

One thought on “Countering the fixated threat”

  1. I am building a website about this highly secret and extremely dangerous operation.
    It is not the professional group dedicated to the protection of the prominent that the Observer article would have you believe. I am going to report how it is also used to remove ‘undesirables’ from society by members of the NHS and police. I will give examples how they will contrive the darkest interpretation or blatantly lie to ensure continued detention.

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