Dual harm: an exploration of the presence and characteristics for dual violence and self-harm behaviour in prison – 2018

The purpose of this paper is to quantify the characteristics of dual-harm behaviour in prison in comparison with sole self-harm or assault behaviour in prison, with an analysis of the distinguishing features.

Official data on in-prison incidents, demographic and offending information were analysed for 326 prisoners in two prisons in England.

Proportions of up to 42 per cent of offenders who assault others in prison will also engage in self-harm and vice versa. Dual-harm prisoners will engage in a broader and greater frequency of prison incidents than either sole group; with dual-harm prisoners reflecting greater proportions of damage to property and fire-setting. There were no differences in their time in prison or presence of serious violent current conviction, however, an index offence of drug supply was less likely in the dual-harm group, with minor violence slightly more likely in longer sentence prisoners. There was no difference for the dual-harm prisoners whether the first incident was self-harm or violence, with mean duration from sole to dual harm of less than three months.

Practical implications
In-prison behaviour can assist in the identification of prisoners at dual risk of harm. Greater inclusion of in-prison behaviour and awareness of dual harm in research methodologies may assist in improving risk management. A wider use of joint risk assessment and single case management approach is suggested for prisoners with dual-harm profile.

This is the first study on dual-harm behaviour in UK prisons and to evaluate their wider prison behaviour and offending characteristics.

Karen Slade
Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 8 Issue: 2, 2018