Social and probation services

Social and probation services have a close relationship with forensic psychiatry, including:

• social and probation reports on offenders before the court

• resettlement of offenders

• probation and bail hostels.

For example, a mentally disordered person convicted of a crime may be put on probation, with psychiatric treatment as a condition of this. Failure to cooperate with treatment would be a breach of the probation order and result in the offender's being brought back before the court. This has sometimes been criticized as making psychiatry part of the criminal justice system. There would then, for example, be concern that what was said in medical confidence to a doctor might be made known to the criminal justice system.

For minor offences, probation with a condition of psychiatric treatment has fallen out of favour for this and other more practical reasons: it would place mental health services in an impossible situation if they had to inform probation every time a patient did not, for example, collect a prescription. For more serious matters, the advantages can outweigh the disadvantages, and it is still used.

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