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First Interim Report of the Interdepartmental Group to examine issues relating to people with mental illness who come in contact with the criminal justice system

21st September 2016

The First Interim Report of the Interdepartmental Group to examine issues relating to people with mental illness who come in contact with the criminal justice system was produced in collaboration between the Department of Justice and Equality, Department of Health, the Health Service Executive, the National Forensic Mental Health Service, An Garda Síochána, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Irish Prison Service.

The report is concerned with the interactions of those with mental illnesses with the criminal justice system and the effect that this interaction has on vulnerable individuals. It recommends the introduction of an ‘all stages’ approach. This approach allows people with mental illness to be diverted into appropriate treatment and services at all stages of the criminal justice process.

The interdepartmental group further recommends the expansion of legislation so as to better provide for diagnosis in such contexts at the order of the courts, and assesses the need for revision of legislation surrounding involuntary admission to approved mental health centres, as was prescribed by the Mental Health Act 2001.

The report further highlights a study of admissions to Cloverhill prison undertaken by the Prison In-reach and Court Liaison Service (PICLS), which assessed the state of mental health of those who were admitted to the facility from 2012 to 2014. The service is provided by the National Forensic Mental Health Service. The service screens all new remands for the presence of major mental illness and performs comprehensive assessments for persons thus identified, or following referral. There were a total of 8,374 remand and sentenced committals to Cloverhill between 2012-2014.

1,205 were viewed as requiring mental health assessment out of the 8,374 committals screened by the PICLS at Cloverhill Prison during the years 2012 to 2014.

Figures describing the primary clinical diagnosis (some patients may have had multiple diagnoses) of the 1,205 assessed are as follows:

  • No mental illness or only adjustment reaction- 70 (5.8%);
  • Childhood and developmental disorders – 9 (0.8%);
  • Intellectual disability – 15 (1.2%);
  • Personality disorders - 222 (18.4%);
  • Neurotic Disorders – 6 (0.5%);
  • Organic Mental Disorders – 21 (1.7%);
  • Substance use disorders – 460 (38.3%);
  • Schizophrenia, Schizotypal and other delusionary disorders – 279 (23.2%);
  • Bipolar Disorder – 49 (4.1%);
  • Other mood disorders – 74 (6.1%);

Total studied - 1,205.

In addition, of the 1,205 studied -  3% had a definite diagnosis of intellectual disability; 25% had a history of personality disorder; 86% had a history of substance abuse; 35% were homeless.

Click here for a link to the report

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