In the Media

Research shows mentally ill more likely to be victims of crime

PUBLISHED May 15, 2009

Adults with severe mental health problems are almost 25% more likely to be victims of crime than the general population, a report commissioned by the Ministry of Justice has revealed.

Access to Justice: evidence of the experiences of adults with mental health problems, found evidence of ?prejudicial attitudes? within the criminal justice system leading to ?negative outcomes?, with a disproportionate number of the mentally ill going to jail. The report also found that fear of discrimination and prejudice deters many people from disclosing mental illness or seeking advice and support.

The report is based on a review of 7,890 research abstracts and 41 studies into how mentally ill adults are treated by the civil, family and criminal justice systems. It estimates that between 125,000 and 600,000 people in Britain have a ?severe and enduring mental health problem?, while up to one quarter of the general population have a ?mild to moderate? mental health problem.

While schemes to divert people with mental health problems away from the criminal justice system are ?evolving quickly?, the police and others require further training to help them identify offenders with mental health problems. More research is also needed into experiences and outcomes in the civil and family justice systems.

The MoJ said it has commissioned primary research to examine the court experiences of ?adults with mental health problems, learning disabilities and limited mental capacity?. Publication is planned for late 2009.