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The prosecution of psychiatric inpatients: overcoming the barriers

Christopher R. Clark, Bernadette A. McInerney & Ian Brown

Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology; Available online: 15 May 2012

 

Abstract

The prosecution of psychiatric inpatients can present problems for psychiatrists and others. These include perceived conflicts of interest, issues with breaching confidentiality and whether prosecution is in the public interest. This paper describes the practical issues which were faced in achieving prosecution of patients who committed assaults within an English high security hospital. A major factor was a mutual lack of understanding at the interface between psychiatrists and the investigating and prosecuting authorities. A consistent approach was achieved after meetings between the police, Crown prosecution service (CPS) and hospital staff. The details of this local agreement are described as we believe that there is no reason why this approach should not be used in other settings. For some patients, being prosecuted had considerable implications for their future management; by the imposition of a restriction order or indeterminate sentence for example.

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