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Serious criminal offending and mental disorder

Case linkage study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 January 2018

Cameron Wallace*
Affiliation:
Victorian institute of Forensic Mental Health, Department of Psychological Medicine
Paul E. Mullen
Affiliation:
Victorian institute of Forensic Mental Health, Department of Psychological Medicine
Philip Burgess
Affiliation:
Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria
Simon Palmer
Affiliation:
Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria
David Ruschena
Affiliation:
Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health, Department of Psychological Medicine
Chris Browne
Affiliation:
Department of Physiology, Monash University
*
Professor P. E. Mullen, Department of Psychological Medicine, PO Box 266, Rosanna, Victoria 3084, Australia

Abstract

Background

A relationship exists between mental disorder and offending behaviours but the nature and extent of the association remains in doubt.

Method

Those convicted in the higher courts of Victoria between 1993 and 1995 had their pyschiatric history explored by case linkage to a register listing virtually all contacts with the public psychiatric services.

Results

Prior psychiatric contact was found in 25% of offenders, but the personality disorder and substance misuse accounted for much of this relationship. Schizophrenia and affective disorders were also over-represented, particularly those with coexisting substance misuse.

Conclusions

The increased offending in schizophrenia and affective illness is modest and may often be mediated by coexisting substance misuse. The risk of a serious crime being committed by someone with a major mental illness is small and does not justify subjecting them, as a group, to either increased institutional containment or greater coercion.

Type
Papers
Copyright
Copyright © 1998 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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