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Keywords:

  • forensic competencies;
  • multidisciplinary working;
  • skills;
  • strengths;
  • tensions;
  • weaknesses

This paper reports on an investigation into the skills and competencies of forensic psychiatric nurses from the perspective of three groups: (A) forensic psychiatric nurses; (B) non-forensic psychiatric nurses; and (C) other disciplines. A national survey of forensic psychiatric services in the UK was conducted, and information gathered on the perceived skills and competencies in this growing field of psychiatric practice. From 3360 questionnaires, 1172 were returned, making a response rate of 35%. The results indicate a small discrepancy between forensic nurses' and non-forensic nurses' perceptions of the role constructs of forensic practice. However, a larger difference was noted between nurses' perceptions and other disciplines' perceptions of the constituent parts to forensic psychiatric nursing. Nurses tended to focus on personal qualities both in relation to themselves and the patients, while the other disciplines focused on organizational structures both in defining the role and in the resolution of perceived deficits. The findings have implications for multidisciplinary working, as well as policy formulation and curriculum development in terms of the skills and competencies of forensic nurse training.