The mental health needs of women detained in police custody

David Scott*, Sinad McGilloway, Michael Donnelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


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 2171089 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. Declaration of interest: None.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-151
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 09 Nov 2009


  • Diversion
  • Liaison
  • Mental disorder
  • Women offenders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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