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Mental health needs of young offenders in custody and in the community

  • Prathiba Chitsabesan (a1), Leo Kroll (a2), Sue Bailey (a3), Cassandra Kenning (a1), Stephanie Sneider (a1), Wendy MacDonald (a4) and Louise Theodosiou (a5)...
Abstract
Background

Research has revealed high levels of mental health needs in young offenders but many studies have been small, focusing on specific populations.

Aims

To evaluate the mental health and psychosocial needs of a nationally representative sample of juvenile offenders in England and Wales, including female offenders and those from Black and minority ethnic groups.

Method

A cross-sectional survey of 301 young offenders, 151 in custody and 150 in the community, was conducted in six geographically representative areas across England and Wales. Each young person was interviewed to obtain demographic information, mental health and social needs, and psychometric data.

Results

Young offenders were found to have high levels of needs in a number of different areas including mental health (31%), education/work (36%) and social relationships (48%). Young offenders in the community had significantly more needs than those in secure care and needs were often unmet. One in five young offenders was also identified as having a learning disability (IQ < 70).

Conclusions

Needs for young offenders were high but often unmet. This emphasises the importance of structured needs assessment within custody and community settings in conjunction with a care programme approach that improves continuity of care.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr P. Chitsabesan, Research Room, Gardner Unit, Bolton, Trafford and Salford Mental Health Trust, Bury New Road, Manchester M25 3BL, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 161 773 9121; e-mail: pchitsabesan@yahoo.com
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Mental health needs of young offenders in custody and in the community

  • Prathiba Chitsabesan (a1), Leo Kroll (a2), Sue Bailey (a3), Cassandra Kenning (a1), Stephanie Sneider (a1), Wendy MacDonald (a4) and Louise Theodosiou (a5)...
Submit a response

eLetters

ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY AND YOUNG OFFENDERS

Rafey A Faruqui, Consultant Neuropsychiatrist
15 June 2006

Chitsabesan et al (2006) have reported that 1 in 5 young offenders were also identified as having a learning disability with an IQ of less than 70. They have also found a high level of mental health needs amongstthis group. It remains a curious question whether a low IQ and mental health needs in some cases may be associated with acquired brain injury (ABI).

This useful study has missed the opportunity to assess the association between acquired brain injury (ABI) and offending in this group of young offenders. Brower & Price (2001) in their review of neuropsychiatry of frontal lobe dysfunction in violent and criminal behaviour, have reported high rates of neuropsychiatric abnormalities in persons with violent and criminal behaviour, and have suggested an association between aggressive dyscontrol and brain injury, especially involving the frontal lobes.

Hawley (2003) has reported higher levels of behavioural and school problems amongst children and adolescents after traumatic brain injury (TBI). In another study on the prevalence of TBI in 69 randomly selected inmates, Slaughter et al (2003) have reported that 60% of their sample reported TBI over their lifetime and 36% reported TBI in the prior year. The authors have concluded that the later group had significantly worse anger and aggression scores and had a trend towards poorer cognitive test results and a higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders than the group without TBI in the prior year. Simpson et al (1999) have reported sex offending as a significantly likely problem amongst a minority of men after TBI.

Our experience indicates that a significant proportion of referrals to our services originate from prison services and that ABI can be an important clinical concern amongst patients admitted to an adolescent secure learning disability service. We feel that it is important that future studies on the issue of mental health needs amongst offenders also take into account the history and impact of acquired brain injury. This may help in formulating more comprehensive management strategies to address unmet needs and offending behaviour.

Declaration of Interest:None

References:

Brower, M. C., Price, B.H. (2001) Neuropsychiatry of frontal lobe dysfunction in violent and criminal behaviour: a critical review. J NeurolNeurosurg Psychiatry, 71, 720-726

Chitsabesan, P., Kroll, L., Bailey, S. et al (2006) Mental health needs of young offenders in custody and in the community. British Journal of Psychiatry, 188, 534-540.

Hawley, C. A. (2003) Reported problems and their resolution followingmild, moderate and severe traumatic brain injury amongst children and adolescents in the UK. Brain Injury, 17 (2), 105-129.

Simpson, G., Blaszczynski, A., Hodgkinson, A. (1999) Sex offending asa psychosocial sequel of traumatic brain injury. J Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 14 (6), 567-580.

Slauughter, B., Fann, J. R., Ehde, D. (2003) Traumatic brain injury in a county jail population: prevalence, neuropsychological functioning and psychiatric disorders. Brain Injury, 17 (9), 731-741.

Dr Rafey A. Faruqui MBBS, MSc, MRCPsychConsultant Neuropsychiatrist, National Centre for Brain Injury RehabilitationSt. Andrew’s HospitalNorthampton NN1 5DGRfaruqui@standrew.co.uk

Dr Jaume Morrey-Canellas LMS, MSc Psychiatry, MRCPsychConsultant in Developmental NeuropsychiatryMalcolm Arnold HouseSt. Andrew’s Hospital,Northampton NNi 5DG
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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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