The study

Violence in psychiatry
Mental health professionals often encounter violence. Such incidents are frequently caused by  a minority of the patients. Although the current social trend in the Netherlands is to punish violence against care providers more severely, violence against care providers in psychiatry often remains unprosecuted. The involvement of criminal law in each incident is neither attainable nor desirable, but clarity as to which incidents should be reported, investigated and prosecuted is needed. At present, there is no clear policy in place offering transparency and legal equality.

Involvement of criminal law
This research project aims to establish which factors, according to the various parties involved, are key in determining whether to report and whether to prosecute an incident. We will also look at current policy and practice, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere. The results will be used to devise a guideline, which will contribute to a uniform reporting and prosecution policy. Ultimately this will help reduce the number of violent incidents.

Scope, nature and punitive consequences
This study will firstly identify the scope and nature of aggressive incidents in psychiatry in the Netherlands. In addition, we would like to know how often a report is filed and how many of these reports result in criminal investigations, prosecution or even a conviction. A national survey was held in the Netherlands for this purpose in summer 2011, with over 1500 mental health professionals taking part. The results are currently being analyzed.