Taking a health-first approach helps people receive the support they need and aims to avoid situations escalating to a level where harm or a criminal conviction may result.
About the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre
A Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC) is a prevention-focused collaboration that brings together police and mental health professionals to share information, conduct assessments, and facilitate mental health treatment, law enforcement, and other interventions to manage the risks posed by fixated people.
In this context, the term 'fixated' refers to a very specific type of behaviour, where someone has an obsessional pre-occupation with a person, place or cause which is pursued to an irrational degree.
While fixated people may cause harm to other people and groups, often it is the fixated person themselves who suffers most. The fixated person's family and friends may also be impacted. Fixated people need and deserve appropriate mental health and other interventions.
What the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre does
FTAC serves two purposes; to allow agencies understand a fixated person's behaviour and the supports available to them, and to ensure appropriate interventions are in place where possible.
It is a collaboration between Health and Police and the Parliamentary Service, with dedicated mental health professionals to assess people's needs and facilitate help where necessary. FTAC works by sharing appropriate information to reduce the level of concern for fixated people to themselves and others.
In September 2017 Health and Police, with Parliamentary Service Security and the 3DHB Mental Health, Addictions, and Intellectual Disability Service, established a small trial of the concept.
The FTAC trial focussed on the threats presented to Members of Parliament by a small number of fixated people, with referrals via the Parliamentary Service.
Consistent with overseas research, the trial highlighted that although some fixated people were already known to agencies, a coordinated response may not happen without a service like FTAC to facilitate this.
As of 1 July 2019, FTAC has been established on a permanent basis.
Privacy and sharing information
The privacy of people’s information is very important. FTAC operates within a set of Standard Operating Procedures, including an information-sharing protocol to ensure that:
- personal information is only disclosed to the extent authorised by law and as necessary and proportionate to achieve the purpose of FTAC
- having received personal information, it is not further disclosed unless permitted by law (including the Privacy Act 2020 and the Official Information Act 1982), or parliamentary convention
- personal information is kept secure
- personal information is not kept for longer than necessary.
FTAC’s activities are overseen by a governance group of senior officials from each participating agency.
FTAC has consulted the Office of the Privacy Commissioner about the sharing of personal information under the Privacy Act 2020 and Health Information Privacy Code, and the privacy protections FTAC has in place.
Basis for information-sharing
The legal basis for sharing of information by or with FTAC includes that:
- the disclosure of the personal information is connected to the purpose for which it was obtained, (Principle 11(1)(a) of the Privacy Act and Health Information Privacy Code 2020 (HIPC) Rule 11(1)(c))
- the sharing of personal information is necessary to avoid prejudice to the maintenance of the law by a public sector agency in (Principle 11(1)(e) and HIPC Rule 11(2)(j)(i))
- the disclosure of the personal information is necessary to reduce or lessen a serious threat to public health or public safety or the life or health of the fixated person or other individuals (Principle 11(1)(f) and HIPC Rule 11(2)(d)).
In addition, section 22C of the Health Act 1956 authorises disclosure of health information by health service providers to various persons including probation officers, social workers, and constables for the purpose of performing their powers, duties and functions.
Where possible, FTAC may interact with the fixated individual and seek authority to share information.
If you are concerned about the way FTAC has handled your personal information and you wish to make a complaint, the first step is to contact FTAC ([email protected]). If you are not satisfied with FTAC’s response to your concerns, you may wish to make a complaint to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner Te Mana Mātāpono Matatapu. Information about making a complaint can be found on the Privacy Commissioner’s website.