Risk Factors for Interpersonal Violence in Prison: Evidence from Longitudinal Administrative Prison Data in Northern Ireland

Michelle Butler*, Catherine B. McNamee, Dominic Kelly

*Corresponding author for this work

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The present study uses a prospective longitudinal research design to examine whether previously identified risk factors for prison interpersonal violence can predict violent prison misconduct in Northern Ireland (NI). Administrative data drawn from the records of 429 adult males imprisoned on November 22, 2017 were used to predict involvement in violent prison misconduct during a 1-year follow-up period. The results revealed that only a small number of previously identified risk factors were found to be significant in the NI context. Nationality, neighborhood deprivation, history of addiction, submission of prison complaints, past involvement in prison misconduct, and number of incarcerations emerged as significant, while religion, head injury/epilepsy, property offences, and prison visits were significant at the marginal level. Given the variation in risk factors identified as significant in the NI context compared to previous research, it is argued that cultural context matters when attempting to generalize the risk factors for prison interpersonal violence from one jurisdiction to another. These results offer some support for the importation theory, although it should be noted that the inclusion of prison environmental factors was limited due to the nature of the data. It is argued that specialist services and supports should be provided to address the factors contributing to interpersonal prison violence, including interventions to improve feelings of fairness, identify and treat underlying medical issues, as well as support visitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)NP14610-NP14632
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number15-16
Early online date13 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2022


  • Criminology
  • Violent Offenders
  • Cultural Contexts
  • criminology
  • violent offenders
  • cultural contexts


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