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10. Dangerous Behaviour- Dynamic Risk Assessment

The thing about having a simple 3-factor model is that you have to understand how the three factors work. I can imagine, if anyone ever reads this, that some practitioners are tearing their hair out saying that the bulk of their caseload have a history of violence, for example. Or that change is the norm with their clients. Or that they are all really stressed.

History of Violence


So, let’s dig a little deeper. When we talk about a history of violence, we are not talking about having a scrap with a brother or sister, a fight in the playground or an angry confrontation with a traffic officer. We are not interested in “extraordinary” events, but patterns of behaviour – and the earlier in the lifecycle, the more significant. Somewhere around the age of 18 our personality begins to stabilise. Change is always possible but after that, it becomes increasingly difficult. Of course, we may be in the business of helping people turn their lives around – but that should not blind us to the realities of relapse and a return to the past. It’s no different to working with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts – we want them to succeed, they want to succeed – but sometimes it’s hard not to fail.


On the other hand, some-one who has never been violent in the past is extremely unlikely to respond violently to others, whatever the provocation. So, when thinking about risk, a history of significant violence is the big red flag – and that may come from a more formal risk assessment … but you don’t always know the history and some really dangerous people are also good actors. So owe need to look at other factors.


Significant stress


So, working with adults, a history of violence is a necessary factor – but you might not be aware of this. However, even people with a history of violence are unlikely to attack unless under significant stress. However, in a professional context any of us could be seen as the cause of that distress – the face to a face-less and failing system, in their eyes.


If you were to work with a person with a significant history of violence and who was not stressed – and they threatened you – you would be in trouble. We’ll address that later in these blogs! Mostly there has to be significant levels of stress to push a person’s behaviour away from their norm and to revert to form.

An important caveat! Stress is related not only to the service user and their associates - but also to you, us, the practitioner also!


Changed Circumstances


Some people have had a rough and rocky childhood and inculcated a “dog eat dog” dogma. They change their life around and are surviving against the odds. Life is still stressful – but they do have two of the three dangerous factors. We should still try to do our best for them and there is no reason to feel under threat. As long as things stay that way, there is no reason to be concerned.


Any change, however, completely changes the picture. It may just a feeling, something you can’t quite put your finger on. Withdraw, don’t run, but do it tactically (see in a later blog yet to be published). We will also look at the science behind “gut reactions” and instinct.

So much to look forward to!

Stay safe


It might take some basic training but the idea is that to make a


Stay safe


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