Training School 2016 – Modern forensic in-patient facility design standards

What is the training school about?

Forensic psychiatric care is aimed at improving mental health and reducing the risk of recidivism of mentally disordered offenders, within the least restrictive setting possible and with a view to community reintegration, whilst simultaneously maintaining a secure treatment environment. However, the way the services are defined and governed across Europe differ significantly: some countries have issued detailed criteria for different levels of secure care, whereas in other countries security is much more loosely defined and has essentially developed over time along with clinical practices. Also, different historical factors have dictated that in some countries there are secure units that operate in densely populated urban areas, whereas in some countries forensic facilities have been placed further from the surrounding communities.

The rationale behind developing urban forensic services is that this can provide various forms of rehabilitative stimuli not as easily accessible in a more rural environment. However, issues concerning the safety of both the patients themselves and their environment merit particular planning in a more centrally placed location. Drugs, alcohol and antisocial interaction are all factors to take into consideration. A sensitive balance between providing care and security is vital for a well-functioning urban forensic service. Buildings must be used to facilitate the treatment model and care pathway, and to promote community engagement and recovery. Maintaining a high standard in building materials and continually improving the design of the environment will help to improve outcomes for patients. The building should help to ensure comfortable, secure surroundings for patients many of whom are detained for prolonged periods of time.


Photo credit: Tom Mrazek via / CC BY-SA

Thus, security measures and therapeutic issues are closely linked; neither should be dealt with in isolation. Security provides a positive and supportive framework within which clinical care and therapy are safely delivered. Good security and effective therapy should be seen as integrated concepts rather than opposite ends of a spectrum, keeping in mind, though, that secure psychiatric services provide a distinct and separate environment from prisons; the building and site layout design must be planned in a sensitive and balanced way.

A central concept that arises in any consideration of these issues is that of the “inherent dignity” that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights places on all persons. The ways that inherent human dignity can be upheld by mental health services can be, roughly, approached in two ways: by defining dignity as empowerment or dignity as constraint. The first conceptualization defines dignity as a claim to self- determination, rather than limiting free choice. The latter, on the other hand, defines dignity as an objective value that reaches beyond the free choices of an individual; thus, a person’s dignity can be compromised regardless of whether the individual chose the act in question at the given time. Also, constraining one individual can be seen as maintaining the dignity of another, if the latter is somehow threatened or, indeed, damaged by the actions of the former. As these concepts of dignity are obviously not mutually exclusive, an ideal balance- although difficult to attain- is to be striven for when planning all aspects of forensic services, from building design to clinical treatment measures.


What is the aim of the training school?

How society defines its basic ethical principles changes in time, and it is a matter of continual ethical, clinical and legal debate where the line between security and therapy is drawn at any given time. By entering into an open, international discussion with clinicians, architects, policy- makers and medico-legal authorities this training school aims to develop our services to a better standard by focusing on how modern forensic facilities should be designed.


What is the programme like?

The programme involves lectures, videos, discussions anddebates in small groups. The speakers are international experts in the field of forensic psychiatry and mental health and bring with them a wealth of experience (speakers list). The training school will cover basic, internationally applicable standards for forensic psychiatric facilities and how to integrate concepts of therapy and security.

Please find here a time-table for the 3 day programme.

English will be the official language of the training school although some of the speakers speak other European languages.


Number of hours:

The training school runs for at least 8 hours every day; and consists of 20 hours direct contact, comprising two days of workshop- type training and a day of lectures, which is open to a wider audience also.

Please note, that participants of the training school will be expected to deliver a short presentation on the 1st training school day (max 5 min, poster or slide show) of the facility they work in or have experience of, to serve as basis for discussions.

It is envisaged that participants will also undertake a minimum of 1 hours of independent self-directed study for every taught/direct class contact hour.

Specialist points (erikoistumispisteet) will be applied for the relevant medical specialities.



What is needed to integrate the concepts of therapy and security, and how is this currently implemented in your country?

Participants are asked to relate the lectures and workshops in the formulation of recommendations on how to meet the service user’s needs and improve their quality of life in terms of forensic facility design with reference to security and human rights issues.




When is the event happening?

21-23 September 2016.


Where is the event happening?

Folkhälsan house
Topeliuksenkatu 20 (Topelius street 20),


Who can apply?

Professionals, students, scholars and practitioners who are interested in the topic are invited to join the training school. There are 20 places available on a first come first serve basis. Eight of the 20 participants will be reimbursed by the EU-COST programme (travelling costs, accommodation expenses, and meal expenses).



Fill out the registration form, attending 3 days:  Registration form, 3 days Training School 21.-23.9.

Fill out the registration form, attending only 1day: Registration form, 1 day lectures 22.9.

COST is an intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, allowing the coordination of nationally-funded research on a European level. In this light the COST Action IS1302 will allow for the reimbursement of 8 participants for the entire 3- day training school. In order to apply for reimbursement of the COST Action IS1302, your application form needs to include a motivation letter (see Registration form- link). An independent commission will decide upon the 8 participants who will receive reimbursement. The maximal amount of reimbursement will be communicated on forehand.

12 additional places are available, in addition to the 8 participants receiving reimbursement from COST. For them, the fee is set at 350€ for the entire 3 day- training school.

It is also possible attend only the lectures on Thu 22 rd Sep for 100€. This is not reimbursable by COST.

The last registration date is 7th Sep of 2016.

Please note that payments will be charged after the event. HUS employees are exempt from fees; HUS employees please register through Harppi.



We have reserved 20 places for training school attendees 10min walk from the training venue at

Hotel Cumulus Meilahti Helsinki, Tukholmankatu 2, 00250 Helsinki, Finland.

For discount, reserve by 7th Sep and site “Training School, September 2016”: single room 91€/day, double 102€/day (incl. breakfast and sauna)



Tel. +358 20 055 055



Photo credit: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho via / CC BY



Allan Seppänen MD, PhD

Clinical director


Helsinki University Hospital

Psychoses and forensic psychiatry

Vanha Valtatie 198, 04500 Kellokoski




EU-COST IS1302 – Towards an EU research framework on forensic psychiatric care