Forensic Psychiatry

Details are correct at the time of advertising and are subject to change due to educational reasons and service reconfiguration.

Forensic psychiatry is a specialty of medicine, based on detailed knowledge of relevant law, criminal and civil justice systems, mental health systems and the relationship between mental disorder, antisocial behaviour and offending.

What is forensic psychiatry?

Forensic psychiatry is a speciality within psychiatry concerned with helping people who have mental disorder and who present a significant risk to the public.

It covers areas such as the assessment and treatment of mentally disordered offenders, investigation of the complex relationships between mental disorder and criminal behaviour and working with criminal justice agencies to support patients and protect the public. 

Forensic psychiatrists work alongside many other services including the police, probation, courts, Crown Prosecution Service and prisons. See information below.

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine. Psychiatrists are doctors who have trained at medical school and then specialise in psychiatry (rather than, for example, general practice, surgery, general medicine, paediatrics etc).

After training for three to four years in psychiatry, it is possible to specialise; one of the specialities is forensic psychiatry (others include old age psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, substance misuse, rehabilitation etc). 

What do forensic psychiatrists do?

Forensic psychiatrists working in medium and high secure hospitals mostly manage inpatients, although some medium-secure forensic psychiatrist do also have a community case load. 

Community forensic psychiatrists manage a mix of inpatients and outpatients. The work of forensic psychiatrists, as for all doctors, covers many areas including clinical and managerial roles as well as teaching. Forensic psychiatrists lead strong multidisciplinary teams. Some specific aspects of the work of forensic psychiatrists include:

  • a strong focus on risk assessment.
  • careful collection of in-depth information
  • good documentation.
  • helping patients to understand and reduce their risk.
  • helping patients to understand their illness
  • helping with anger control, stress management, assertiveness training, employability
  • addressing problems of substance misuse
  • helping patients to understand the impact of their action on victims
  • good-quality relapse prevention plans
  • careful rehabilitation back into society
  • supporting carers, family and friends.
  • Strong liaison with general psychiatry services and criminal justice agencies.

Insight

The Guardian: Where do forensic psychiatrists work? 

Forensic Psychiatry Regions:

  • Central and North West London (north west London)
  • South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (south London)