The Fixated Threat Assessment Centre

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 Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC) concept.

An FTAC is a prevention-focused collaboration that brings police and mental health professionals together to share information, conduct assessments, and facilitate mental health treatment, law enforcement, and other interventions to manage the risks posed by fixated people.

FTACs also deliver advice and training to relevant agencies. The FTAC concept was developed in the United Kingdom and has been implemented in several Australian states.

The FTACNZ trial focussed on the threats presented to Members of Parliament by a small number of fixated people, and referrals have been via Parliamentary Service. 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.

Consistent with overseas research, the trial highlighted that, of the small number of fixated people, many are already known to agencies but a coordinated response may not happen without a service like FTACNZ to facilitate this. 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.

As of 1 July 2019, FTACNZ has been established on a permanent basis. FTACNZ 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, with dedicated mental health professionals to assess people's needs and facilitate help where necessary. FTACNZ works by sharing appropriate information to reduce the level of concern for fixated people to themselves and others.

If a health approach can be taken, people may be able to receive the support they need – rather than their situation potentially escalating to a level where harm or a criminal conviction may result.

The privacy of people’s information is of paramount importance. FTACNZ has consulted with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and has protocols and processes to protect personal and health information, consistent with the Privacy Act 1993 and the Health Information Privacy Code.

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