Browsing Ethics and Law by Subject "Criminals"
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Criminal law and mentally ill offenders in comparative perspectiveIn this article we compare legal arrangements dealing with mentally disordered offenders in the criminal law systems of Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. To describe relevant differences and similarities in the arrangements, we used a checklist containing central aspects of adjudication, assessment and treatment of mentally ill offenders. These aspects concern: (1) the legal classifications of mental illnesses that can lead to exclusion of criminal responsibility; (2) the acceptance of diminished capacity as a partial excuse; (3) the possibilities for imposing security measures of compulsory treatment instead of or next to criminal punishment; (4) the conditions for their imposition in terms of seriousness of crimes committed and dangerousness of offenders; (5) the available hospitals or special clinics for executing security measures; (6) the role and task of forensic mental health professionals in assessing the offender's state of mind and in advising compulsory treatment; (7) the rules for duration, prolongation and termination of the measures. The findings of this comparative analysis are evaluated in light of legal protection for mentally disordered offenders.
The Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended in 2007) reform – How proposed changes potentially impact personality disorder servicesAbstract: At the beginning of this year, the UK government released a White Paper on Reforms of the 1983 Mental Health Act (MHA) aiming to achieve higher quality, accessible mental health care, as well as empowering people detained under MHA during the process and continuation of detention. In this piece, we focus on the potential impact of the proposal around appropriate care, management and detention of people with Personality Disorder (PD) within the criminal justice system (CJS), psychiatric service provision and community routes. We briefly review the historical context of reforms of PD services in the UK and discuss the proposed changes and issues in relation to the criteria of least restriction, detention and therapeutic benefit. We highlight the complexity around referral routes and logistics barriers for secure PD services that might hamper speeded referral routes and raise concerns around responsibility for authorisation of transfers in the context of risk of serious harm to the public. We emphasise the complex treatment needs of individuals with PDs and how these are potentially not met. We also discuss the shift of focus from reactive care to preventative measures and early intervention in the community for individuals with mild-to-moderate levels of PD. We highlight the need for appropriate integrative services in the community to facilitate assessment across services, identification of complex needs and support options including earlier routine screening and potential digital interventions to optimise specialised care for PD.
The treating psychiatrist as expert in the courts: Is it necessary or possible to separate the roles of physician and expert?Background Certified medical specialists, including forensic psychiatrists, from the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) may practise in each other's countries, but there are professional and legal differences between them. One may lie in whether a patient's treating doctor/clinician may give expert evidence about that person in court. Aims To examine similarities and differences between EU jurisdictions in law and practice in combining or separating such roles and to review the evidence in support of either position. Methods A psychiatrist with court experience was contacted in each EU country about law, practice and guidance on division of clinician-expert roles. Published literature was searched for an evidence base for practice in the field. Additional material is from discussion at a residential meeting of practising forensic psychiatrists from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK. Results All acknowledge that a treating clinician can never be an independent expert in that case, but the 22 (of 27) EU countries responding vary in law and practice on whether the dual role may be assumed. There has been almost no research interest in factors relevant to separation of roles. International discussion revealed that ethical and practice issues are not straightforward. Conclusions On current evidence, either separation or combination of clinical and expert roles in a particular case may be acceptable. Insofar as there are national legal or professional guidelines on this issue, anyone practising in that country must follow them and may safely do so, regardless of practice in their native country. The most important ethical issue lies in clarity for all parties on the nature and extent of roles in the case. This paper has additional material online. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.