The rise and fall of DSPD: a critical evaluation of the dangerous and severe personality disorder programme

Scally, Ruth Joanne (2012) The rise and fall of DSPD: a critical evaluation of the dangerous and severe personality disorder programme. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

[img] PDF
Restricted to Registered users only

Download (380kB)


    In July 1999 the Home Office published proposals for the development of policies for the management of “dangerous people with severe personality disorder” (The Home Office, 1999). The stated objective was to implement a package of arrangements that offered the public better protection against the risks that this group of individuals were seen to pose (The Home Office, 1999, p2). Over the next decade a number of different initiatives were trialled under the auspices of the Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder (DSPD) Programme, including the establishment of four high secure units, (Sizmur and Noutch, 2005, p35), despite the acknowledgement from the outset that research into the causes and treatment of severe personality disorder was at best inconclusive (The Home Office, 1999, p3). The government appeared to have reached the same conclusions in its 2011 consultation paper proposing a more local, prison-focussed offender personality disorder pathway (The Department of Health and Ministry of Justice, 2011, p7).
    It is therefore timely to review the origins of the DSPD programme and its successes and failures. It is also appropriate to assess how the government action reflects the wider political landscape. A literature review was carried out to identify articles from a breadth of perspectives to facilitate a multifaceted analysis.
    This dissertation will outline the history and controversies of the diagnosis of personality disorder before exploring the background to the DSPD programme. It will summarise the criticisms of the proposals from medical, legal and criminological perspectives before reviewing the research that emanated from the units. The evidence for the association between personality disorder and violence and for the treatment of such disorders will be assessed and found to be equivocal in supporting the development of a programme such as DSPD. The limitations of risk assessment will be particularly discussed. Analysis of the programme from the theoretical perspectives of preventive detention and stigma theory enables a better understanding of the context that contributed to the development of the initiative. Finally, the essay will consider alternative strategies that have been developed to deal with dangerous offenders in other jurisdictions. It will conclude that the proposals were based on contentious premises and flawed risk assessments but that the impetus for implementing the proposals can be understood when put in a social and political context. Benefits of the pilot included increased awareness of the needs of personality disordered offenders and renewed interest in research in the area.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2013 13:05
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:16

    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads

    More statistics for this item...