Predicting Security Incidents in High Secure Male Psychiatric Care

Ireland, Carol orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7310-2903, Ireland, Jane Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5117-5930, Jones, Naomi, Chu, Simon orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8921-4942 and Lewis, Michael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5567-3569 (2019) Predicting Security Incidents in High Secure Male Psychiatric Care. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 64 . pp. 40-52. ISSN 0160-2527

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The contribution of environmental and organisational factors in predicting security incidents within a high secure male psychiatric setting is considered using a series of connected studies; a systematic literature review comprising 41 studies and five inquiries (Study 1) to identify core themes of likely importance; application of these themes to incident data through assessment of the ward culture, as perceived by 73 male psychiatric patients and 157 staff (Study 2); and detailed examination of noted relevant factors in the form of interpersonal style, meaningful activity and physical environmental characteristics in a study comprising 62 patients and 151 staff (Study 3). It was predicted that security incidents would be identified through inclusion of environmental and organisational factors.


The systematic review demonstrated the importance of accounting for staff characteristics, patient interactions, physical environment and meaningful activity. The subsequent study noted the importance of only specific aspects of the social environment, with the final study demonstrating that incidents were associated with controlling interpersonal styles of staff, lower perceived fairness, and less involvement in off-ward activities. Perception of fair treatment and off-ward activities mediated the staff interpersonal style and security incident relationship.


The research proposes a preliminary framework - the McKenna Framework for understanding Incidents in Secure Settings (M-FISS) – to explain the occurrence of security incidents in secure psychiatric care.

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