Impact News

Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

Humans have “Super Spidey Sense” for Danger

The Instant Aggression Model largely depends on the idea that people can sense danger before they are consciously aware of it. This is usually referred to as intuition or a gut reaction. The explanation lies in role played in the brain by the thalamus which filters all incoming sensory data – channeling important data up to the pre-frontal cortex where it can be thought about, but channeling dangerous data directly to the amygdala which processes emotion and activates the body before thought takes place. Interestingly this idea has received further support in a study widely reported on the internet suggesting that people do indeed have a “Spiderman” like ability to sense danger before it happens. Actually, the research is not quite so clear as the headlines, but it makes an interesting read none-the-less:



Filed under: Violence, , , , , , , ,

Difficult, Disturbing and Dangerous Behaviour

Contact Sarah Pink at for information on an open access course on 11th December in Southampton – Difficult, Disturbing and Dangerous Behaviour, by Iain Bourne

Filed under: Impact Training, Violence, , , ,

Facing Danger in the Helping Professions

The book is now in production with the Open University Press. Details can be found atFacing Danger. This book introduces the Instant Aggression Model for the first time, together with specific skills for responding to reactive, disturbed and proactive aggression. Other chapters also cover violence in a range of group contexts (gang, mob, bystander, classroom), specific skills in working collaboratively alongside colleague to manage violent situations, risk assessments, lone-working, workplace policies and procedures, supervision and post-incident support. The book is written in an engaging and narrative style illustrated throughout with copious examples from practice.

Filed under: Violence, , , ,

Difficult, Disturbing & Dangerous Behaviour

This dramatic course delivered by Dr Iain Bourne is being made available by Sitra:

20th September 2012 in London

26th September in Leeds


Filed under: Impact Training, Other Mental Health, Violence, , , , , , , ,

Beyond Abuse: working with high risk service users

This dramatic course delivered by Dr Iain Bourne is open for applications by Sitra:

12th September 2012 in Southampton

25th October 2012 in London

Filed under: Impact Training, Other Mental Health, Violence, , , , , , ,

Increase in Violence in Young Offenders Institutions

With the biggest rise being at a private YOI, Ashfield, a suggestion is made that profit is being placed before safety. See the Children & Young People article …

Filed under: Impact Training, Violence, , , , ,

Exposure to Violence Among UK Social Care Staff

In a recent article in the British Journal of Social Work (2012) 42, 851-869, Harris & Leather report a fascinating study on the levels of exposure to violence in UK social care staff. Their conclussion is that more attention needs to be taken to the role of fear. Indeed I have alsways argued that violence is primarily a psychological issue and not rally about the physical act at all. None-the-less the figures are staggering:

  • 9 out of 10 UK social workers have been abused, assaulted or threatened at work (McGregor, 2010)
  • 20% of all British workers signed off following work-related assaults work in Social Care (Lombard, 2010)
  • 25-33% of social care staff are assaulted oveby clieents over a 3-4 year period (Denny, 2010)

Client violence is also reported as the principal source of stress among social care staff Huxley et al, 2005) Residential workers are at greatest risk with Home Care staff least.None-the-less, most employers, both voluntary and statutory give little more than lip-service to the physical safety of their staff, and pay virtually no attention to their psychological safety.

Filed under: Impact Training, Violence, , ,

NHS Trust Guilty Following Fatal Stabbing of Care Worker

Care staff are having to work with increasingly challenging service users, often inappropriately placed, without adequate training or supervision. Another tragic death …
Central Bedfordshire Council

20 July: Sentencing of former Dunstable care home owner and county NHS Trust
A county NHS Trust and the owner of a former Dunstable care home have been sentenced after being found guilty of safety failings following the fatal stabbing of a care worker at a private residential care home in Dunstable.

Kathleen Bainbridge, 58, from Luton was killed at Abacus House, on Princes Street, on 24 August 2007 by resident Stephen Flatt, then aged 55, who attacked her with a knife from a kitchen. Fellow care worker Barbara Hill, from Dunstable, was also attacked when she went to help her colleague.

A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Central Bedfordshire Council found that Abacus House was not the correct care facility for Mr Flatt, who had been placed there by the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

A trial at Luton Crown Court heard he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that Abacus House staff had no expertise or training for dealing with people with this disorder, or for managing violent or aggressive behaviour.

Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was yesterday (19 July) fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £326,346 for breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for its failings in relation to the fatal incident after being prosecuted by HSE.

The council brought proceedings at the same time against the owner of Abacus House, Chelvanayagam Menna, who was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £338,996 after being found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the same Act.

After the sentencing HSE Inspector Karl Howes said: “This was a tragic incident that left a family without a wife, mother and grandmother. No-one expects to go to work and never return home.

“Care homes have a duty not only to protect the safety of their residents but their staff as well. The NHS Trust failed to adequately assess the risks that were posed to staff and other residents from placing Mr Flatt in Abacus House.

“I hope this will make all NHS Trusts and care facilities carefully consider the procedures that they have in place during patient placement.”

Councillor Budge Wells, Deputy Executive Member for Sustainable Communities, Services at Central Bedfordshire Council said: “The legal process has been long and difficult, particularly for Mrs Bainbridge’s family but also for her former colleagues – especially Mrs Hill.

“Of course the trial of Stephen Flatt had to take initial priority and once this was concluded the police instigated a further investigation of the Trust and care home owner. However the Council and HSE cooperated closely on their investigation from the outset and were in a position to progress with proceedings as soon as the police cleared the way.

“All concerned in the case hope that the right lessons are learned from this tragedy and that nothing of a similar nature occurs in future.”

Filed under: Impact Training, Other Mental Health, psychosis, trauma, Violence, , , , , , ,

Fat Faced Men and Aggression

I am often amazed by the things that researchers get up to. The research below is, to me at least, both bizarre and intriguing.

What lies beneath the face of aggression?
Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci first published online December 23, 2011
Carré JM, Murphy KR, Hariri AR
Recent evidence indicates that a sexually dimorphic feature of humans, the facial width-to-height ratio (FWHR), is positively correlated with reactive aggression, particularly in men. Also, predictions about the aggressive tendencies of others faithfully map onto FWHR in the absence of explicit awareness of this metric. Here, we provide the first evidence that amygdala reactivity to social signals of interpersonal challenge may underlie the link between aggression and the FWHR. Specifically, amygdala reactivity to angry faces was positively correlated with aggression, but only among men with relatively large FWHRs. The patterns of association were specific to angry facial expressions and unique to men. These links may reflect the common influence of pubertal testosterone on craniofacial growth and development of neural circuitry underlying aggression. Amygdala reactivity may also represent a plausible pathway through which FWHR may have evolved to represent an honest indicator of conspecific threat, namely by reflecting the responsiveness of neural circuitry mediating aggressive behavior.
Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA, 48202.

Filed under: Impact Training, Other Mental Health, Violence

Thousands of restraint victims could seek compensation

Camilla Pemberton
Friday 13 January 2012 10:59
Royal Court Justice

Children who were unlawfully restrained in privately-run child prisons over a 10-year period could pursue compensation claims, according to a high court judge.

The number of potential claimants could reach thousands, experts have warned.

Passing judgement this week on a judicial review case brought by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), Mr Justice Foskett said the government was under no legal obligation to identify potential victims and notify them of their right to seek compensation – as CRAE had argued.

However, he pointed out that victims could come forward themselves.

“It probably requires just one former detainee, looking back at his or her experience in a [secure training centre] and having conducted the necessary preliminary inquiries, to pursue a well-publicised claim and others will be alerted to the potential of pursuing matters,” he said.

The judge said it was highly likely that large numbers of children were unlawfully restrained in privately-run secure training centres (STCs) for at least a decade between 1998 and 2008.

“I do not think that there is any true or realistic alternative to the conclusion that probably up until July 2008 (and possibly, though unlikely, for another two years thereafter) there was widespread unlawful use of restraint within the STC system and many children and young persons were subjected to such restraint,” he wrote in the judgement.

Restraint techniques involved included the controversial, and subsequently banned, nose distraction technique used on 14-year-old Adam Rickwood hours before his suicide in 2004.

Rickwood’s death at Hassockfield STC and the 2004 death, following restraint, of Gareth Myatt, 15, at Rainsbrook STC led to the discovery of information about unlawful restraint.

The judge said statutory agencies had failed to take appropriate action to stop the unlawful treatment, also criticising the Youth Justice Board (YJB) for its “apparent active promotion” of the methods, due to “confused thinking” until 2007.

He said the “fullest explanation” had not yet emerged as to why widespread unlawful restraint went unchecked for so long, and why there were apparently so few complaints from victims.

Mark Scott, a solicitor for CRAE, said he hoped the judgment would encourage children who were subject to unlawful restraints by STC staff to “come forward and seek redress”.

Carolyne Willow, CRAE’s national co-ordinator, said there could be “potentially thousands of former detainees of STCs being entitled to claim compensation for unlawful restraint. The violations went unchecked for at least a decade so the scale of claims could be enormous.”

But she warned victims would need to know they may have a claim. “Without action by the government we firmly believe former detainees will remain ignorant of their entitlement to seek justice. Unlawful restraint was so endemic that children detained at the time would have seen it as normal and legitimate. The professionals around them certainly did,” she said.

Filed under: Violence, , , , , ,