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Preventive detention, public protection and mental health

Forrester, Andrew 2002. Preventive detention, public protection and mental health. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry 13 (2) , pp. 329-344. 10.1080/09585180210151248

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Public protection proposals for the new Mental Health Act have been the subject of much criticism within psychiatry. Although the proposals raise ethical and moral questions, none of these are new to the subject. However, the new phrase 'dangerous severe personality disorder' (DSPD) does invoke the concept of preventive detention: the use of additional measures to detain recidivist offenders following an estimation of their perceived criminal propensity. The history of preventive detention is discussed, and its recurring failure to be translated into a pragmatic legal tool is demonstrated. Psychiatrists are right to resist current legislative proposals, but to do so on ethical and moral grounds is to lay practitioners open to a charge of hypocrisy.Instead, pragmatic and historical concerns should be at the forefront of any argument. The money could probably be better spent elsewhere. Preventive detention has never worked, and is extremely unlikely to do so now.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 1478-9949
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2021 23:43

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