I was hugely impressed with his report and my client spoke highly of him following the assessment. Louise Cunningham, Foot Anstey Solicitors.
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Darren is 23 years old man who has recently been convicted of Actual Bodily Harm upon a similar-aged male member of the public. The Court has requested a psychological risk assessment of Darren for sentencing purposes. The Court is concerned that Darren does not appear to have displayed a typical pattern of violence with this representing a serious but isolated episode of violence.
In completing this assessment, the Psychologist was provided with Darren’s criminal records, detailed documents relating to the offence and his medical records. A review of these documents suggested that Darren had dropped out of school at the age of 15 following him refusing to attend; there was a suggestion in the records that he may have been subjected to bullying and he was also apparently prone to anxiety. Darren did not appear to have been involved in violent offending but there were several convictions for shoplifting and stealing cars and these appeared to always have been carried out with associates. In fact, a Probation Officer had commented previously that he seemed to be naïve and driven by a desire to fit in with his peers.
Darren completed a full clinical assessment and he was administered a range of psychometric measures in order to prepare the Psychological Report. What emerged from the assessment was that Darren had experienced poor attachments to his parents, including emotional neglect and intimidation by his father. Darren recalled how he had always tried anything to win his father over but when he was about 12 years old, he recalled giving up as he had learned that his father always seemed to let him down or reject him. Darren disclosed that after repeated experiences of being bullied and ‘stared out’ by other children, he started to disrupt lessons and carry out dares that his peers set him, in order to fit in and reduce the likelihood of bullying. At around this time, Darren started truanting from school, smoking Cannabis and engaging in criminal behaviours with his peers.
The assessment suggested that Darren was of low average intelligence, that he craved approval from others and that he struggled to fully understand the perspectives of other people. It would seem that the pre-existing insecurities had led to a repression of angry feelings and a growing suspicion of the motives of others. On the day of the offence, Darren had been smoking Cannabis and unusually for him, had been encouraged to drink a large quantity of cider. The effects of these substances appeared to be enough to impair his judgment further and to remove his normal inhibitions, allowing a release of previously repressed anger when he felt ‘stared out’ by the victim.
A structured risk assessment of violence suggested that Darren posed a medium risk of future violence towards the public. Despite this, the psychological formulation helped the Court to understand that the risk was not based on a previous escalation of violent behaviour but rather it related to specific psychological factors such as an insecure attachment style, mistrust issues, poor peer relationships, lack of assertiveness and use of substances as a means of coping. The Court decided that Darren’s risk to the public could be managed in the community via a comprehensive risk management plan involving Probation, Community Mental Health Team and Substance Misuse Services; Darren also engaged with a Psychologist to address the psychological risk factors that underpinned his violent and non-violent offences.
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