Continuity and Change in Penal Policy towards Personality Disordered Offenders

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter presents a critical analysis of the Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder (DSPD) programme. This programme was established by New Labour in 2001 to test treatment, management and risk assessment techniques for individuals thought to pose a high risk of serious harm to the public stemming from a severe form of personality disorder. The programme ran for over a decade and appeared to achieve some successes in managing a difficult population and reducing the risk of violence in the short term. Patients and prisoners spent surprisingly few hours in therapy, however, and definitive conclusions on the effectiveness of treatment could not be drawn without a control group. Furthermore, the units experienced significant staffing and operational difficulties, progress through the programme was slow and pathways out of the units were unclear. This chapter provides readers with a critical commentary on the controversial programme, and the revisions in policy and practice have aimed to manage the ‘dangerous’ offender successfully.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMental Health and Punishments
Subtitle of host publicationCritical perspectives in theory and practice
EditorsPaul Taylor, Sharon Morley, Jason Powell
ISBN (Electronic)9781351240611
ISBN (Print) 9780815375159, 9780815375142
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Mental health
  • Punishment
  • Criminology
  • dangerousness

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