Forensic mental health services: independent review


Message from the Chair

COVID-19: suspension of the review’s work

As Chair of the review, I have - with the agreement of the Minister for Mental Health - suspended the work of this review as of Friday 27 March 2020. 

In my core role as the Director of Nursing Care at Erskine, my priority at this time is to fully focus on the safety and wellbeing of our residents and staff during this global pandemic.  

The suspension will also allow the review’s working group members to focus on the critical work they are doing to support and deliver forensic mental health services in Scotland at this time. 

On behalf of myself as Chair and the team, I would like to thank everyone who responded to the call for evidence and/or who took the time to share their experiences during the visits and meetings the review has had so far. We remain committed to completing the important work of the review as soon as possible. Please check here for updates. 

Last update: 27 March 2020

This is an independent review looking into how forensic mental health services are being delivered in hospitals, prisons and the community across Scotland. Forensic mental health services specialise in the assessment, treatment and risk management of people with a mental disorder who are currently undergoing, or have previously undergone, legal or court proceedings.

This review was announced in March 2019 by Clare Haughey, Minister for Mental Health in response to new developments and changes in the delivery of these services in recent years.  

It is a non-statutory review which is being carried out in line with the principles set out in Professor Alison Britton’s report, An investigative review into the process of establishing, managing and supporting independent reviews in Scotland

See the terms of reference for the full list of specific issues that the review has been asked to consider. 

The review is expected to report by the end of June 2020.

Phase one: gathering views

The first phase of the review was a listening phase where the review sought views from:

  • anyone who is currently receiving forensic mental health services or has received them in the past
  • family members or carers of those who have received these services
  • individuals working to deliver these services
  • organisations that are delivering, commissioning or monitoring these services.
  • anyone who has research or personal interest in the delivery of forensic mental health services

During this phase, the Chair of the review made a series of visits to speak with people receiving and delivering forensic mental health services across Scotland. The review also ran a call for evidence from 14 October 2019 to 31 January 2020.

Phase two: considering the evidence

The review received 105 responses to its call for evidence. 58 were from organisations, including 9 advocacy organisations. 14 were from individuals who had experience of receiving forensic mental health services or who wanted access to them. 16 were from individuals supporting people who had experience of the services or who they felt should have access to them. 14 were from individual staff members working in forensic mental health services. 3 were received from interested individuals.  

The review received over 200 other pieces of written evidence. 

As not everyone wanted, or was able, to respond in writing, the Chair to review did a series of visits to secure hospital wards and units to gather the voice of lived experience and operational staff. During these visits, he spoke to nearly 300 people and collected the views that they shared. 

The review is now considering all the views and experiences that have been shared with it. 

If you have something you wish to share about your experience of the forensic mental health services in Scotland, you can still contact the review. Contact details are at the right side of this page

Read our privacy policy.

Looking further ahead

The final phases of the review will involve identifying improvements and making recommendations for change based on the evidence the review has gathered.


Derek Barron, Director of Care at Erskine was announced as the Chair to the review in May 2019. He is supported by a small secretariat team. 

The review has established three working groups to support work across the key settings in which forensic mental health services are delivered: hospitals, criminal justice and the community. These groups include people from over 45 organisations who represent: 

  • people with lived experience of forensic mental health services, their relatives, carers and representatives
  • organisations commissioning, delivering and monitoring forensic mental health services as well as those providing support services
  • staff-side and professional organisations
  • organisations involved in legal and court proceedings

See the list of organisations represented in the three working groups