I, moved in with his father who

I, Chloe McMahon, am an Undergraduate Psychology student at Teesside
University. Along with my colleagues1,
I have a broad range of knowledge on psychological research and theory, and am
capable to provide a reliable and unbiased case formulation of risk following
BPS ethical guidelines.

Summary of the CaseMr A was found guilty of an Offence of Wounding with Intent to do Grievous
Bodily Harm and Possessing Offensive Weapon in Public Place. The offence was
committed against his former partner. He has been previously convicted of
several other offences in his past, including affray, grievous bodily harm and
possession of offensive weapons.Mr A had a difficult and very violent upbringing. His parents separated
while he was very young which ended up with him living with his mother, who he
stated he did not form any kind of bond with. He was abused by his mother and others,
who his mother allowed. He also watched his mother be abused frequently by men
who she had formed quick relationships with. The area in which he lived in made
him witness many criminal activities. At the age of six, Mr A moved in with his
father who was placed into prison not long after, which led to Mr A living with
his paternal grandmother. Mr A was bullied in school, which led to him fighting back and being excluded
from his mainstream education due to a serious issue involving a bottle of acid
being squirted at his peers. The longest relationship he stated being in was three months. However, he
reported that he had had 77 previous relationships, lasting between one month
to two years, which shows inconsistencies in his testimony. He described all of
his relationships to be intimate, respectful and non-abusive.Mr A has not had any experience of employment as he states that he cannot
due to his criminal record. He has shown problematic attitudes towards
supporting himself in the community through meaningful employment. He found
economic support through social assistance. Issues Specific to the CaseThe HCR20 is a comprehensive and structured guide to assess risk of
violence through historical and clinical risk factors. It is commonly known and
offers a well-known understanding and has been reported to have good validity
and reliability (Kemshall, 2002). In this case the only factors which were
looked at were the historical items. A number of risk factors from the HCR-20
have shown to be pertinent to Mr A’s case. The risk factors explained below
seem the be the most important in Mr A’s case. A history of previous violence could be a potential risk factor Mr A due
to his previous violent convictions. There is evidence from a range of studies
to show that the likelihood of another offence will escalate with each following
offence. Soothill (2009) found that offenders who commit any crime by the age
of 14 were found to be more probable to commit a more severe and violent
offence in later life. A study which looked at recidivist violent offenders
found that 73% of participants were re-arrested for a serious offence, and that
the most violent offenders had the highest percentage of re-arrest (Trulson et
al, 2011). There is plenty of research that shows committing violence at an
early age is associated with more serious violence (Farrington, 1991; Piper,
1985; Tolan and Thomas, 1995). In a sample of 1157 released violent offenders,
65% of them were re-arrested ¾ of which for another serious offence (Tulson et
al, 2011). Farrington (1991) found that more aggressive males at age 8-10 were
convicted of a more serious violent offence by the age of 32. Evidence suggests
that the earlier the onset age of violence, seems to increase the risk and
seriousness of offending (Loeber and Farrington, 1998)  A history with problems with relationships could be a potential risk
factor as strong social bonds and attachments to individuals such as spouses,
close friends and family have been found to be a protective factor which helps
to reduce the risk of violence (Lodewijks et al, 2010). Marriage appears to decrease the chance of an offender re-committing a
violent crime, particularly a ‘good’ marriage and one that has developed before
the age of 25 (Collins, 2010). Laub and Sampson (1993) found that the effect of
a good marriage takes time to appear and has greater impact the longer the
marriage lasts. Due to Mr A being not capable of keeping a long-lasting
relationship, he has never been married. Therefore, he has never had a
protective factor to stop him from re-committing his violent crimes. A
comprehensive study of released offenders, found that a common characteristic
of the offenders that had committed the most violent crimes, was having never
been married (Stalans et al, 2004). A lot of the research on criminal careers and desistance has been
conducted using participants who grew up in or before the 1970s which could
suggest that the findings are due to marriage at an early age being more common
over this period. However, recent research has proven that marriage has a
stronger impact on desistance now than in earlier periods (Bersani et al,
2009). A history of traumatic experiences could be a potential risk factor for
Mr A as he has been through a lot of stressful experiences, which can be
described as traumatic, in his lifetime. For example, Mr A had a difficult
upbringing due to factors including abuse and poor school achievement. The family environment has been proven to have a high prediction of a
risk of violence (Babcock et al, 2003). One study by Widom (1989) found that
individuals who were neglected showed the highest increase in risk for future
violence. Individuals who experienced physical abuse were slightly more likely
to be at risk for violence and those who were neglected by family members
showed the greatest increase in risk for violence. Mr A was abused by his
mother as a child as well as describing a feeling of his mother treating him
differently to his other siblings. He stated that he felt unloved, unsupported
and vulnerable to his mother. Zingraff et al (1993) found a positive
correlation between the frequency of childhood maltreatment and future violence.There is plenty of evidence to suggest that early caregiver disruption
can cause criminality. Children separated from parents before the age of 10
self-reported that they had used violence in adolescence and early adulthood
(Farrington, 1989). Mr A was separated from his mother at the age of 6, and
then not long after was separated from his father. He reported that he had used
violence against one of his peers at school and then later in his life he
committed a series of crimes. Not long after Mr A went to live with his father, his father had been
sent to prison. A number of factors linked to parental antisocial behaver have
been related to violence among young people. A number of studies suggest that
criminality among youth is increased due to parental antisocial behaviour. One
study suggests found that children whose parent had been convicted before the
age of 10 were 2.2 time more likely to commit violent crimes compared to those
who had non-criminal parents (Farrington, 1989).Due to Mr A being removed from mainstream schooling, he did not receive
the best education. Poor academic achievement has proved to be a consistent
factor in violent offenders (Maguin and Loeber, 1996; Denno, 1990). It has been
suggested that those who have a low academic achievement and attainment by the
age of 11 double in risk of later violence (Hawkins, 2013).School can be a protective factor for a child as it can be an opportunity
for the child to engage in the school and the community. This would offer a
distraction from the violence in which the child may be swayed into by others.
However, Mr A did not have this as a protective factor which could have been a pre-disposing
factor for his violent offending.  Although the HCR-20 has proven to be effective within a certain stretch,
parts of it can be suggested unreliable and slightly inaccurate. One study
found that there was high predictive validity for the HCR-20’s clinical and
risk management items, however for the historical items, there was almost no
predictive validity (Belfrage, Fransson & Strand, 2010).The
HCR-20 disregards protective factors. There is plenty of evidence to suggest
that protective factors should be included when assessing future violent
behaviour. It is suggested that risk assessments are unbalanced as protective
factors are not taken into consideration (Rogers, 2000). This could have the
potential to lead offenders being viewed as more dangerous than what they
really are. However, now there is a structured assessment for protective
factors which has been developed to work alongside the HCR-20.

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The Team Approach to the caseAs a team, we worked quite well. There was a small timing issue with
starting the assignment, as we could have got together a lot earlier to focus
on it in depth rather than quite close to the deadline. It was difficult to
meet up and work closely together as our schedules were very diverse and
clashed so that there was little time for us to meet in person to go over the
work we had been doing individually. However, we had an online document which
we were all able to access, change and offer help to each other on. In my
opinion, the team could have worked better if each individual were more
motivated to spare time to meet up to help each other with their own individual
parts. Our team split the workload by questions by choice. I chose the last
question which was professional conclusion. Without seeing and hearing everyone
else’s answers to the other questions, I was finding it quite difficult to give
my professional conclusion as I had not been shown or told what the other team
members had thought and felt the defendant should be given. I feel that this
could have been solved if we had started the assignment earlier and met up more
often. Other than this, I think that we worked well together as everyone
contributed equally with their own questions and findings.I
enjoyed the experience of being an Expert Witness as it helped me to gain a
little more confidence in speaking in front of an audience. It also helped me
widen my knowledge on different treatment programmes in prison. Before my
research, I did not know there were so many options for offenders, and although
a lot of them are very similar, they offer different skills to be learnt. I
would like to experience this again as it was challenging but enjoyable, it was
a nice change in the style group presentations compared to the ones I have
experienced before.  

Elizabeth Wilson, Jessica Rickaby and Susan Worton

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