- This guide is an attempt to “operationalise” complex issues and you should refer to your area’s policy and your supervisors for specific local requirements.
- INITIAL ACTION
- This guidance applies to both “inpatient” offences AND offences committed in the community.
- Preserve evidence for offences in the normal way – witnesses, CCTV, forensic, etc..
- Do not immediately assume that it is not in the public interest to invesitgate or prosecute
- Gather as much background information about mental ill health as possible, especially if it is possible to contact a mental health professional with knowledge of the suspect
- Get medical opinion about whether the suspect can be interviewed / barriers to prosecution.
- Inpatient offences – formally request background information listed here:
- SUBSEQUENT ACTION
- Once decided whether to interview / section:
- Fit to be interviewed – appropriate adult, interview, weigh evidence: disposal decision.
- NOT fit to be interviewed – Mental Health Act assessment, await outcome.
- Once decided whether to ‘section’ under the MHA:
- No section – appropriate adult, interview, weigh evidence: disposal decision.
- Section (minor offence) – consider ‘diversion’ without charge; and / or caution, warning or local resolution of the offence.
- Section (serious offence / risk) – take background information to CPS for consideration of charge and Part III MHA application to court.
- LEGAL REMINDERS
- Capacity is NOT a concept in criminal law: whether a patient has ‘capacity’ is not a crucial question.
- Insanity is a defence, for the defendant to raise:
- “Every man is presumed to be sane and possess a sufficient degree of reason to be held responsible for his actions.”
- It IS legally possible to arrest someone who is already sectioned under the MHA
- It is sometimes necessary to prosecute people who are seriously mentally ill in order to secure opportunities available under Part III MHA.
- MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROSECUTION OF OFFENDERS
- Specific, more detailed guidance on inpatient offences.
Winner of the President’s Medal,
the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Winner of the Mind Digital Media Award
All opinions expressed are my own – they do not represent the views of any organisation.
(c) Michael Brown, 2019
I try to keep this blog up to date, but inevitably over time, amendments to the law as well as court rulings and other findings from inquests and complaints processes mean it is difficult to ensure all the articles and pages remain current. Please ensure you check all legal issues in particular and take appropriate professional advice where necessary.
Government legislation website – http://www.legislation.gov.uk