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Sheffield 99 Wednesday, 15 September, 1999, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Terrorists are 'addicted' to their crimes
rampton
Rampton: Britain's most secure hospital
By BBC Science's Helen Sewell

People who commit terrorist offences are unlikely to lay down their weapons in peace time because they are addicted to their crimes, says a leading criminal psychologist in the UK.

Festival of Science
John Hodge heads the psychology team at Nottinghamshire's Rampton Hospital, the Britain's most secure hospital, where criminals with mental disorders are housed.

Speaking at the British Association's Festival of Science in Sheffield, UK, he claimed that terrorists, serial killers and burglars were often addicted to their crimes.

Mr Hodge says when criminals carry out an activity to which they are addicted, it makes them feel good. But they then need to spend an increasing amount of time on the activity in order to achieve the same positive feelings.

Heightened experiences

He says sex offenders in particular commit crimes to achieve heightened emotional and physical experiences. Jailed serial killers often say they wanted to be caught and stopped because they knew their actions were wrong but they could not control themselves.

Without professional help, many crime addicts find it impossible to overcome their addiction, and Mr Hodge believes this is partly why terrorism is so difficult to eradicate.

No-one knows exactly how criminal addictions start, but Mr Hodge says watching violent crimes on television could play a part in some cases.

However, he says the criminal must have an existing tendency towards addiction.

Mr Hodge also criticises prison regimes which do not allow inmates enough activity. He says if crime addicts sit in a cell all day with nothing else to do, they will fantasise about their crimes and will be more likely to re-offend when released.

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19 Jul 99 | Health
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