Forensic mental health services: independent review


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This independent review looked 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. It was a non-statutory review.

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.  

The review published its interim report in August 2020.

The review concluded its work at the end of February 2021.

Read the final report: Independent Forensic Mental Health Review : final report

The Scottish Government published its response to the report in October 2021. A short life working group has been set up to decide what do in response to a number of the Review’s recommendations.  

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

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 103 responses to its call for evidence. 56 were from organisations.14 were from individuals who had experience of receiving forensic mental health services or who wanted access to them. 15 were from individuals supporting people who had experience of the services or who they felt should have access to them. 15 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 was suspended from March to mid-July  2020 to allow the Chair to focus on the safety and wellbeing of Erskine's residents and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also allowed 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.

The review team returned to work on 20 July 2020 to consider the evidence that has been received. 

The review published an interim report in August 2020 summarising the evidence it received. The report brings together the key issues and challenges in forensic mental health services in Scotland as they are experienced by the people receiving and delivering them. The review is not recommending solutions in this report. Its aim is to let people know what the review was told.

People were invited to give any feedback they had on this report to the review by the end of October. The Review received 20 responses to this.

Phase three: reaching conclusions

The review considered recommendations for change based on the evidence that it had gathered. 

The review was originally expected to report by June 2020. The suspension of the review’s work from March to mid-July 2020 delayed this. The review published its final report in February 2021.

The consultation hub for the Review is archived in the National Records of Scotland


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 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 included people from over 45 organisations who represented: 

  • 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 

Read the Review's privacy policy


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