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Reprosecution of patients found unfit to plead: a report of anomalies in procedure in Scotland

  • Derek Chiswick (a1), Alexander P. W. Shubsachs (a2) and Steven Novosel (a3)
Extract

A legal finding of unfitness to plead results in automatic committal of the accused to a mental hospital. In Scotland, if criminal proceedings are under solemn jurisdiction, there is a mandatory order restricting discharge without limit of time and the hospital must be a state hospital unless for special reasons an alternative hospital is appropriate (Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure [Scotland] Act 1975). The mental condition of a person found unfit to plead may subsequently improve such that he may become fit to be tried in the normal way. In England and Wales the Home Secretary has power, under Section 5(4) of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964, to remit to prison for trial a person found unfit to plead who subsequently recovers. On arrival of such a person in prison the hospital and restriction orders cease to have effect. The Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 does not apply to Scotland; authority to reprosecute unfit defendants in sheriff courts and the High Court rests exclusively with procurators fiscal and the Crown Office respectively. The status of the original hospital and restriction orders in reprosecuted cases is unclear.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Chiswick, D. (1978) Insanity in bar of trial: a state hospital study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 132, 598601.
Chiswick, D. (1990) Criminal responsibility in Scotland. In Principles and Practice of Forensic Psychiatry (eds Bluglass, R. & Bowden, P.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
Emmins, C. (1986) Unfitness to plead: thoughts prompted by Glenn Pearson's case. Criminal Law Review, 604618.
Home Office and Department of Health and Social Security (1975) Report of the Committee on Mentally Abnormal Offenders. Cmnd 6244. London: HMSO.
Normand, A. C. (1984) Unfitness for trial in Scotland: proposed adjudication of the facts and the right to reprosecute. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 7, 415435.
Scottish Home and Health Department and Crown Office (1975) Criminal Procedure in Scotland (second report). Cmnd 6218. Edinburgh: HMSO.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Reprosecution of patients found unfit to plead: a report of anomalies in procedure in Scotland

  • Derek Chiswick (a1), Alexander P. W. Shubsachs (a2) and Steven Novosel (a3)
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