Forensic mental health

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. Some other people are managed by forensic mental health services because they are deemed to be at a high risk of harming others or, rarely, themselves under civil legislation.

The level of secure service a person is accessing (high, medium, low, or community) is determined by the level of risk a person is thought to pose. Although a large majority of forensic mental health services are run by NHS Health Boards, Scotland also has a few independent sector secure inpatient forensic mental health services. 

We are: 

  • delivering an independent review of delivery of forensic mental health services in Scotland 
  • administering the victim notification scheme for victims of mentally disordered offenders 
  • providing the oversight and scrutiny of day-to-day management of restricted patients as part of our role in supporting Scottish Ministers statutory duties 
  • sponsoring the work of the Forensic Mental Health Service Managed Care Network 
  • reviewing the guidance for practitioners involved in the care and management of forensic mental health patients 
  • providing training for those new to managing restricted patients or would like a refresher

We have produced the following documents:

We have also provided a list of contacts for the Forensic Mental Health Unit.

Restricted patients

Restricted patients are persons detained in hospital under a compulsion order with a restriction order. They have usually committed an offence punishable by imprisonment but as a result of mental disorder are not imprisoned but ordered to be detained in hospital for treatment, without limit of time. They are dealt with through a programme of treatment and rehabilitation - the aim being to prevent recurrence of offending by dealing with the mental disorder.

Scottish Ministers have responsibility for the oversight and scrutiny of day-to-day management of restricted patients including:

  • authorising suspension of detention from hospital
  • transfers between hospitals
  • transfers between hospital and prison
  • recall from conditional discharge

More information

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