The courts and mental health
Explains what may happen if you are charged with committing a crime, what happens when you to go court, and how your mental health is taken into account.
This is a section 47 transfer to hospital from prison, with section 49 restrictions added. The Ministry of Justice can add section 49 restrictions if they think it's appropriate.
Adding section 49 restrictions means that your responsible clinician will need the permission of the Ministry of Justice before:
- discharging you from hospital
- giving you section 17 leave, or
- transferring you to another hospital.
After the Ministry of Justice has agreed to the transfer, you will need to go to hospital within 14 days.
The Ministry of Justice may send you back to prison if your responsible clinician thinks that you no longer need treatment in hospital. You can also apply to the Mental Health Tribunal if you want to leave hospital or go back to prison.
The tribunal doesn't have the power to discharge you. It can only tell the Ministry of Justice that it would discharge you if it did have the power.
The tribunal must consider whether:
- you have a 'mental disorder' which means you should be in hospital for treatment
- it is necessary for your health or safety or for the protection of others for you to get treatment
- appropriate treatment is available.
The tribunal must also consider whether you should remain in hospital if the Ministry of Justice doesn't discharge you. It is important to get both recommendations if you don't want to go back to prison.
Once the Ministry of Justice gets these recommendations a few different things may happen:
- If you haven't reached the end of your sentence or tariff (for indeterminate sentences) the Ministry of Justice won't discharge you, but might return you to prison. The Ministry of Justice doesn't usually do this if the tribunal recommends that you should go back to prison.
- If you have reached your tariff, the Ministry of Justice will refer your case to the parole board. If the parole board decide to release you, you can then leave hospital.
Responsible clinician (RC)
Certain decisions, such as applying for someone who is sectioned to go onto a community treatment order (CTO), can only be taken by the responsible clinician.
All responsible clinicians must be approved clinicians. They do not have to be a doctor, but in practice many of them are.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
When the Mental Health Act talks about someone with mental health problems and whether or not they should be sectioned, it often uses the term 'mental disorder'. The Act says that this can include "any disorder or disability of mind".
Mental disorder can include:
- any mental health problem normally diagnosed in psychiatry
- certain learning disabilities.
If a court gives you an indeterminate sentence (one without a fixed time limit), or a life sentence, it will set a 'tariff' or 'minimum term'. This is the earliest date at which you could be released. The exception is where the court gives a 'whole life sentence' which doesn't have a tariff.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
This information was published in July 2018.
This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published.
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