Exploring the potential for joint training between legal professionals in the criminal justice system and health and social care professionals in the mental-health services
Journal: Journal of Interprofessional Care
Effective screening of mentally-ill defendants in the criminal court system requires cooperation between legal professionals in the criminal justice system (CJS), and health and social care workers in the mental-health service (MHS). This interagency working, though, can be problematic, as recognized in the Bradley inquiry that recommended joint training for MHS and CJS professionals. The aim of this study was to examine the experiences and attitudes of workers in the CJS and MHS to inform the development of relevant training. The method was a survey of mental-health workers and legal professionals in the court. The results showed that both agencies were uncertain of their ability to work with the other and there is little training that supports them in this. Both recognized the importance of mentally-ill defendants being dealt with appropriately in court proceedings but acknowledged this is not achieved. There is a shared willingness to sympathize with defendants and a common lack of willingness to give a definite, unqualified response on the relationship between culpability, mental-illness and punishment. Views differ around defendants’ threat to security. Findings suggest there is scope to develop interprofessional training programs between the CJS and MHS to improve interagency working and eventually impact on the quality of defendants’ lives. Recommendations are made on the type of joint training that could be provided.