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Serious criminal offending and mental disorder: Case linkage study

  • Cameron Wallace (a1), Paul E. Mullen (a1), Philip Burgess (a2), Simon Palmer (a2), David Ruschena (a3) and Chris Browne (a4)...

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.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Professor P. E. Mullen, Department of Psychological Medicine, PO Box 266, Rosanna, Victoria 3084, Australia

References

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Serious criminal offending and mental disorder: Case linkage study

  • Cameron Wallace (a1), Paul E. Mullen (a1), Philip Burgess (a2), Simon Palmer (a2), David Ruschena (a3) and Chris Browne (a4)...
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