Raising magistrates’ awareness of vulnerable adults: a pilot
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Raising magistrates’ awareness of vulnerable adults: a pilot

Sheila Hardy Senior research fellow, Berrywood Hospital, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Mignon French Magistrate, Magistrates Association
Johanna Johnston Criminal justice liaison and diversion team manager, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Rose Streeton Primary care research and development manager, Berrywood Hospital, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and magistrate, Magistrates Association

More than 90% of prisoners have one or more mental health disorders, and it has been found that most prison systems are ill-equipped to provide appropriate mental healthcare. This article describes a pilot study that aimed to increase magistrates’ awareness of mental health and learning disabilities in court, the use of appropriate community sentences, mental health treatment requirements and community options for vulnerable defendants.

A team made up of staff from a vulnerable persons focus group and nurses from Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust liaison and diversion team presented awareness-raising sessions to magistrates and other court staff during lunch breaks at four courts in Northamptonshire. After the sessions, participants said they were better informed and more likely to use appropriate community sentences including mental health treatment requirements and community options. It is hoped that the sessions will help to reduce the number of vulnerable people being sent to prison in Northamptonshire and instead they will be given more appropriate sentences along with the treatment and support they may need.

Mental Health Practice. 20, 4, 19-23. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2016.e1140

Correspondence

sheila.hardy@nhft.nhs.uk

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 24 November 2015

Accepted: 29 February 2016