Challenges Facing Interprofessional Working at the Interface between the Court and Mental Health Services in the United Kingdom

This source preferred by Sarah Hean

Authors: Hean, S., Warr, J. and Staddon, S.

Start date: 13 July 2008

In the Criminal Justice system in England and Wales, Magistrates’ and Crown Courts wanting psychiatric opinion on a defendant, currently have to pay for that opinion from a psychiatrist working independently. If the psychiatric advice is not forthcoming or delayed defendants can wait unnecessarily long periods on remand in custody, failing to access mental health support and/or appropriate sentencing. This system can lead to tensions between the court and the mental health service providers.

To address this, a local partnership between Mental Health services and the Criminal Justice system in the SW of England has developed a Service System Development Project. Part of this is the collection of baseline data to identify current challenges to the system from the perspectives of both the Court and Mental Health service personnel. This paper explores the latter, namely the Court’s perspective.

As part of the baseline of a longitudinal survey design, questionnaires were sent to all legal advisors, lawyers, magistrates/judges and probation officers linked to courts participating in the project. Findings of the study revolved around their perceptions of the adequacy of current mental health advice provision and highlighted what they see as the strengths and limitations of the system.

The paper concludes with a discussion of potential resolutions to the above tensions, exploring where these perceptions may be in conflict with those held by the mental health system and how these relate to the needs of the defendant themselves.

As an audience, participants will learn of the: o Challenges facing interprofessional working at the interface between the UK Court and mental health services.

o Potential conflict between two working cultures o Ways in which these may be resolved.

As presenters, we will learn: o How these challenges can be compared and contrasted with the experiences of international colleagues.

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