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Home > The mental health needs of women detained in police custody.

Scott, David and McGilloway, Sinead and Donnelly, Michael (2009) The mental health needs of women detained in police custody. Journal of Mental Health, 18, (2), pp. 144-151. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638230701879193.


Background: This paper describes and appraises the work of a city centre Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion (CJLD) service in relation to contact with female Mentally Disordered Offenders (MDOs).

Aims: To describe the population of female detainees referred to the service by examining administrative outcomes and psychiatric assessment data.

Method: Two Community Mental Health Nurses (CMHNs) collected information on the mental health needs and service utilization of MDOs over a three-year period. Information on psychiatric history, offending history and recommended follow-up services is also presented.

Results: One-in-five (217/1089) detainees assessed by the service were female, 91% of whom had a mental illness. Two-thirds were “cases” on the GHQ whilst 58% attained “above threshold” BPRS scores; 43% and 54% respectively had a history of harming others or themselves. Most had previous contact with mental health services. The majority (59%) were referred to their GPs following assessment.

Conclusions: Many women with mental illness are arrested and detained in police custody. The CJLD service effectively identified, assessed and linked the majority of female MDOs to services.

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