Forensic psychiatry is generally identified as a specialized offshoot of psychiatry, dealing with the calculated treatment and evaluation of mentally disordered offenders in secure hospitals, prisons and in the community. This branch of psychiatry requires an indepth understanding and thorough knowledge of the connection between legality and mental health.
Patients of Forensic Psychiatry, generally are affected with personality dysfunctions, mental illness, psychopathic disorders, organic brain damage, learning disability and other conditions, such as histories of abuse and traumatic experiences as well as substance abuse and misuse.
Nature of the work
The most important prerequisite of this branch of psychiatry is a secure and safe environment where the subjects are liable to legal restrictions. Evaluation and assessment may vary from highly secured hospitals and prisons to low secure units and community based services. Forensic psychiatrists must have a thorough knowledge of civil, criminal and case law because of their frequent dealings with criminal justice agencies and the courts.
An important component of Forensic Psychiatry is risk assessment and evaluation. Forensic psychiatrists must be fluent and adept at handling patients during emergencies or routine situations. Moreover, they should be calm, composed and professional in their dealings, especially with patients who display instability or violent and aggressive behavior.
The probation service, the prison service and the courts generally rely on forensic psychiatrists for expert advice, precisely because of their familiarity with preparing reports for mental health review tribunals and criminal justice agencies.