Threat assessment

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Threat Assessment is the practice of determining the credibility and seriousness of a potential threat, as well as the probability that the threat will become a reality. [1] [2] Threat assessment is separate to the more established practice of violence-risk assessment, which attempts to predict an individual's general capacity and tendency to react to situations violently. Instead, threat assessment aims to interrupt people on a pathway to commit "predatory or instrumental violence, the type of behavior associated with targeted attacks," according to J. Reid Meloy, PhD, co-editor of the International Handbook of Threat Assessment. [3] "Predatory and affective violence are largely distinctive modes of violence." [4]



Threat assessment involves several major components(1-4):

Areas of need

Threat assessment is relevant to many businesses and other venues, including schools. Threat assessment professionals, who include psychologists and law enforcement agents, work to identify and help potential offenders, guiding students to overcome underlying sources of anger, hopelessness or despair. These feelings can increase a student's risk of suicide, alcohol and drug use, physical abuse, dropping out and criminal activity. Threat assessment also applies to risk management. Information security risk managers often perform a threat assessment before developing a plan to mitigate those threats. [5]

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Industrial and organizational psychology which is also known as occupational psychology, organizational psychology, or work and organizational psychology; is an applied discipline within psychology. Industrial, work and organizational psychology (IWO) is the broader global term for the field internationally.

Broadly speaking, a risk assessment is the combined effort of:

  1. identifying and analyzing potential (future) events that may negatively impact individuals, assets, and/or the environment ; and
  2. making judgments "on the tolerability of the risk on the basis of a risk analysis" while considering influencing factors.

Forensic Psychology, a subfield of psychology, involves the application of psychological knowledge and methods to both civil and criminal legal questions. Traditionally, it has a broad definition as well as a narrow definition. The broader classification states that forensic psychology involves the application of all psychological areas of research to the legal field, while the narrower definition characterizes forensic psychology as “The application of clinical specialties to legal institutions and people who come into contact with the law.” While the American Psychological Association (APA) officially recognized forensic psychology as a specialty under the narrower definition in 2001, the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists previously acknowledged by the APA in 1991 were revised in 2013 to include all subfields of psychology that apply "the scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge of psychology to the law."

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Neuropsychological assessment was traditionally carried out to assess the extent of impairment to a particular skill and to attempt to determine the area of the brain which may have been damaged following brain injury or neurological illness. With the advent of neuroimaging techniques, location of space-occupying lesions can now be more accurately determined through this method, so the focus has now moved on to the assessment of cognition and behaviour, including examining the effects of any brain injury or neuropathological process that a person may have experienced.

In civilian law enforcement, a Threat Management Unit (TMU) is a police department team that handles cases of harassment or stalking. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) created the first Threat Management Unit, the Los Angeles Police Department Threat Management Unit, in 1990 after the murder of actress Rebecca Lucile Schaeffer. Over the years the TMU has been visited and emulated by many city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including agencies from Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Hong Kong and South America; as well as prominent security consultants all seeking to implement a form of TMU for contracted national and foreign jurisdictions.

Workplace violence

Workplace violence (WPV) or occupational violence refers to violence, usually in the form of physical abuse or threat, that creates a risk to the health and safety of an employee or multiple employees. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defines worker on worker, personal relationship, customer/client, and criminal intent all as categories of violence in the workplace. These four categories are further broken down into three levels: Level one displays early warning signs of violence, Level two is slightly more violent, and level three is significantly violent. Many workplaces have initiated programs and protocols to protect their workers as the Occupational Health Act of 1970 states that employers must provide an environment in which employees are free of harm or harmful conditions.

Crime prevention is the attempt to reduce and deter crime and criminals. It is applied specifically to efforts made by governments to reduce crime, enforce the law, and maintain criminal justice.

Psychopathy Checklist Psychopathy scale

The Psychopathy Checklist or Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, now the Psychopathy Checklist—revised (PCL-R), is a psychological assessment tool most commonly used to assess the presence of psychopathy in individuals—most often those institutionalized in the criminal justice system—and to differentiate them from those suffering from antisocial personality disorder, a similar but distinct illness. It is a 20-item inventory of perceived personality traits and recorded behaviors, intended to be completed on the basis of a semi-structured interview along with a review of 'collateral information' such as official records.

Positive behavior support (PBS) is a form of applied behavior analysis that uses a behavior management system to understand what maintains an individual's challenging behavior and how to change it. People's inappropriate behaviors are difficult to change because they are functional; they serve a purpose for them. These behaviors are supported by reinforcement in the environment.

MOSAIC threat assessment systems (MOSAIC) is a method developed by Gavin de Becker and Associates in the early 1980s to assess and screen threats and inappropriate communications.

Chris Hatcher, Ph.D., (1946–1999) was a clinical psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco who was an expert in police and forensic psychology. He dedicated his professional life to the study of violence and its prevention. He died unexpectedly at the age of 52.

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Stalking is unwanted and/or repeated surveillance by an individual or group toward another person. Stalking behaviors are interrelated to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them. The term stalking is used with some differing definitions in psychiatry and psychology, as well as in some legal jurisdictions as a term for a criminal offense.

In United States civilian law enforcement, a Threat Management Unit is a police department team that provides criminal and behavioral analysis and risk assessments in an attempt to review, and ultimately mitigate, the potential for violence with an emphasis on prevention. Threat Management Units identify risk factors, patterns of escalation, and construct an environment that inhibits or prevents violence. The services provided cover a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to terrorism, school violence, sexual crimes, stalking, cyber crimes, domestic violence, arson, sabotage, communicated threats, insider threats and pre-attack behavior. Research in this area of law enforcement is known as Threat Safety Science.

The Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC) is a UK police/mental health unit, whose function is to manage the risk to public figures from stalkers and others fixated on celebrity. It was formed in 2006 in acknowledgement that such offenders overwhelmingly suffered from psychosis, and could often be identified in advance from behavioural signs. Preventive treatment could then be applied, for the protection of the relevant public figures as well as the families and neighbours of the sufferer.

Assessment may refer to:

Management of domestic violence

The management of domestic violence deals with the treatment of victims of domestic violence and preventing repetitions of such violence. The response to domestic violence in Western countries is typically a combined effort between law enforcement, social services, and health care. The role of each has evolved as domestic violence has been brought more into public view.


  1. "Threat Assessment: Predicting and Preventing School Violence". National Association of School Psychologists . Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  2. "NATIONAL THREAT ASSESSMENT CENTER". United States Secret Service. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  3. International handbook of threat assessment. Meloy, J. Reid., Hoffmann, Jens, 1968-. Oxford. 2014. ISBN   9780199924554. OCLC   855779221.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. "Threat assessment in action". . Retrieved 2018-03-17.External link in |website= (help)
  5. "Overview of Threat Risk Assessment". Retrieved 2018-01-18.