The law relating to mentally disordered persons in the criminal justice system

Authored by: Philip Fennell

Handbook of Forensic Mental Health

Print publication date:  March  2008
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9781843922629
eBook ISBN: 9780203118276
Adobe ISBN: 9781136308802


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Chapter 11 discussed the possibilities for using the civil powers in the Mental Health Act 1983 (the 1983 Act) to divert people from the criminal justice system. This chapter considers the special procedures applicable where a prosecution is brought against a mentally disordered or mentally vulnerable suspect, and goes on to discuss the provisions of Part 3 of the 1983 Act whereby mentally disordered offenders may be diverted from custody and the sentencing powers under criminal justice legislation whereby they may be sent to prison. Under Part 3, mentally disordered offenders may be remanded to hospital, sentenced to a hospital order or hospital direction by a criminal court or transferred from prison to hospital by the Home Secretary’s warrant. Restrictions may be placed on discharge from hospital, and offender patients may be subject to compulsory powers in the community. The number of restricted patients detained in hospital at any one time has gone up from 1,864 in 1980 to 3,395 in 2005–06, of whom 779 had been transferred from prison, 212 had been found unfit to plead and 42 found not guilty by reason of insanity.

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