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Organisational impact of a forensic education programme

Helen Walker (Consultant Nurse, Forensic Network, Carstairs, UK)
Jennifer Young (JResearch Assistant, Forensic Network, Carstairs, UK)
David Langton (Researcher, Forensic Network, Carstairs, UK)
Lindsay Thomson (Clinical Advisor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)

The Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 2050-8794

Article publication date: 2 August 2013



The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the organisational impact of the New to Forensic Mental Health education programme, developed for use across all forensic services in Scotland. To date, 267 have been trained as a trainer or mentor; 502 have completed the programme and 375 are yet to complete. The programme is designed to promote self‐directed learning and is multi‐disciplinary and multi‐agency in approach. It includes case studies and problem‐based learning relating to patients in a variety of settings, from the community to high secure care.


As part of a larger longitudinal study to assess the value of this New to Forensic Mental Health education programme, organisational impact was assessed using semi‐structured interviews with (n=13) senior staff working in forensic services. Participants were purposively selected for interview.


Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis, which revealed three themes: “Acquiring knowledge: what you learn and how you learn”, “Developing skills” and “Shift in attitudes and behaviour”. The results demonstrate the positive impact the programme has had at an organisational level and what changes can occur when staff become more knowledgeable, skilful and confident. The implications for practice, along with the limitations of the study, are discussed. One of the weaknesses of this type of analysis is that it is always dependent on the analyst's interpretation, and is thus the product of that person's bias, filters or prejudices.


This evaluation is one of the limited few that explore organisational impact of an education programme.



Walker, H., Young, J., Langton, D. and Thomson, L. (2013), "Organisational impact of a forensic education programme", The Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 218-230.



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