Heyman, Bob, Shaw, Monica, Davies, Jacqueline, Godin, Paul and Reynolds, Lisa (2004) Forensic mental health services as a risk escalator: a case study of ideals and practice. Health, Risk and Society, 6 (4). pp. 307-325. ISSN 1369-8575

Medium/low secure units occupy a central role in forensic mental health care, bridging high secure and community services. Although outcomes, assessed in terms of readmission and identified reoffending, have been evaluated, little research exploring processes underlying attempted rehabilitation for offenders diagnosed as having mental health problems has been undertaken. The present qualitative study built upon previous research completed in a northern England medium/low secure forensic mental health care institution for adults with learning disabilities (Heyman et al. 2002a,b). It was carried out in a medium/low secure forensic mental health care Unit located in London. In phase one, 43 staff, including general managers, doctors, nurses, psychologists and occupational therapists were interviewed about their philosophy of care, views about risk management for forensic mental health patients and perceptions of the Unit. In phase two, 10 case studies of patients were undertaken. As far as possible, patients were interviewed twice over a period of 11 - 20 months, and staff were asked about their progress. Two case conferences were observed. Data were analysed using the metaphorical concept of a rehabilitative risk escalator around three themes carried forward from the previous study: organisational issues; patient active risk management; and multiprofessional collaboration.

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