SIFER is a national collaborative network that brings together four research and education centres focusing on security, prisons and forensic psychiatry. Our regional research centres are located in Bergen for Health District West, St Olavs University Hospital in Trondheim for Health District Mid-Norway, University Hospital of Northern Norway in Tromsø for Health District North, and in Oslo Univerity Hospital for Health District South-East.
The purpose of SIFER is to facilitate research collaboration, knowledge exchange, innovation and the dissemination of best practice. The aim is to contribute to the development of an improved service for patients and other users in the different areas, as well as to generate knowledge exchange with a range of stakeholders including policymakers, practitioners, academics, the media and the general public.
SIFER works closely with the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the criminal justice system including the police and prison services, service user organizations and higher education institutions. SIFER organises advanced professional development courses for a range of professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, other practitioners and policymakers in prison and mental health services.
Secure hospital psychiatry is a field that provides for the assessment and treatment of patients who have a serious mental illness and, at the same time, are aggressive or violent, and need 24-hour hospitalization within a secure psychiatric unit in Norway. Patients can present as a high risk to others or to themselves. They often will require more comprehensive assessment, treatment and intensive follow-up routines than those offered by mainstream psychiatry.
SIFER carries out research at an international level. It offers professional development and teaching, using contemporary evidence-based methods. In collaboration with the Norwegian Directorate of Health, SIFER provides professional bodies with guidance on current best practice in risk assessment and management. Such guidance can be applied in secure psychiatric hospital units, courts, police and prison services, and to others within this field.
Prisoners have many mental health care needs. Our research in this area focuses on the mental health care needs of prisoners. SIFER is involved in the development of initiatives which aim to strengthen local health care for Norwegian prisoners. SIFER offers a series of courses on psychiatry in prisons that run over a period of up to one year.
These offer opportunities for professional specialization in a number of relevant fields and are approved as continuing professional development (CPD) by the Norwegian Medical Association and the Norwegian Psychological Association. SIFER also offers courses and guidance to the University College of the Norwegian Correctional Service (KRUS) and to prison staff. In 2019, a national professional network for mental health care was established in prisons with regular meetings for members. The aim of this is to strengthen professional development and interest in the field.
Our work in prison research also encompasses global research on life imprisonment and an in-depth examination of the imposition and impact of the ultimate penalty in Norway.
Forensic psychiatry is the application of psychiatric and psychological knowledge to the criminal justice system. Experts in psychiatry and psychology may be appointed by the court to assess whether a person charged in a criminal case has a mental health disorder or intellectual disability at the time of the alleged offence (Norwegian Penal Code §20, cf. §§ 62, 63)<https://lovdata.no/dokument/NLE/lov/2005-05-20-28>.
SIFER has a national responsibility to provide further education for experts in forensic psychiatry and forensic psychology which has been approved by the Forensic Medicine Commission and the National Unit for Forensic Psychiatric Expertise (NERS). The course is often a prerequisite for being qualified to undertake forensic psychiatric assessments. SIFER carries out research in the field of legal insanity which is highly relevant to both national and international debates.
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