The impact of mental health issues on criminal offences
Bexleyheath, Blackheath & Petts Wood
In our work as criminal lawyers we often see the impact of mental health issues in criminal matters. Frequently clients will come to us having been charged with offence such as fare evasion or drink driving, having never before been involved with the police or even having so much as a parking fine. They report that their behaviour is out of character and we often find it may be attributable to mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety. It is widely known that the impact of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns have increased the number of people suffering with mental health conditions and therefore it is likely that we will see an increase in these sorts of cases.
A common issue that faces defence solicitors and prosecutors alike is that there is no common definition of mental health used within the Criminal Justice System. The consequences are that the client’s needs are not met, and the appropriate adjustments are not made in the early stages of a police investigation. Lack of information sharing across organisations due to GDPR and training for prosecutors can also affect charging decisions in cases where a defendant’s needs are not clear at the outset. Often it is not until the matter reaches a sentencing hearing that a defendant’s mental health condition is taken into consideration.
This is a matter that has long concerned mental health charities and the organisations that provide help. An inspection published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation makes some recommendations for improvements in the system to help effect change. Read the full report.
For further reading see Criminal Justice system failing people with mental health issues.
If you feel you are suffering from symptoms of any mental health conditions, there are a number of organisations which can offer assistance:
Please give us a call on 020 8301 4884 to book a consultation with one of our Solicitors to assist you in your matter.