The Offender Personality Disorder Pathway

Offenders with severe personality disorder have highly complex needs that create challenges for both criminal justice and NHS staff in terms of management, treatment and the maintenance of a safe working environment. Approximately two-thirds of prisoners meet the criteria for at least one type of personality disorder.

The Offender Personality Disorder (OPD) Pathway, which is co-commissioned and managed by NHS England and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), helps to identify, assess, risk manage and treat male and female offenders with personality disorder in prisons, secure hospitals and the community.

Services are primarily targeted at men who present a high risk of harm to others and women who present a high risk of committing further violent, sexual or criminal damage offences, and where offenders are also likely to have a severe personality disorder linked to their offending (complex, long standing, interpersonal problems).

The Pathway aims to:

  • reduce levels of reoffending;
  • improve offenders’ psychological health and wellbeing;
  • improve the skills, confidence and attitudes of staff working with offenders who have personality disorder.

The following services are now available as part of the Pathway:

  • Services based in the community to identify, assess and develop case formulations and Pathway Plans for offenders with severe personality disorder
  • Personality disorder treatment services in prisons and in the community for both men and women. Treatment is delivered over a number of months or years by specially-trained clinicians and criminal justice staff in an environment that is safe, supportive and respectful
  • Democratic Therapeutic Communities (DTCs). DTC treatment consists of group therapy or one to one meetings and community living, where everyone on the community shares responsibility for the day-to-day running of the community, decision-making and problem solving.
  • Democratic Therapeutic Community +. A DTC+ is the same as a DTC but it is for offenders who have learning difficulties.
  • Psychologically Informed Planned Environments (PIPEs). PIPEs are designed to help offenders interact with others in a safe, friendly and productive way. They do not provide treatment, but are specifically designed to help offenders progress through their pathway.
  • Risk assessment, sentence planning and case management when offenders are in the community
  • Workforce development: equipping staff across the pathway with the right skills and attitudes to work with this group of offenders.

If you are interested in the OPD Pathway and would like to know more, why not have a look through copies of the Pathway Press, the newsletter of the OPD Pathway Programme, available on the news page here.

To find out more about the OPD Pathway, or if you would like to get involved by writing an article for the Pathway Press, don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing: pd@noms.gsi.gov.uk