Any information is good information: do the mental health screening reports meet the needs of magistrates in Bristol Magistrates’ Court?

Staddon, Susan (2009) Any information is good information: do the mental health screening reports meet the needs of magistrates in Bristol Magistrates’ Court? MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    Any information is good information: Do the mental health screening reports meet the needs of magistrates in Bristol Magistrates’ Court? This research is looking specifically at the introduction of the provision of a screening report at Bristol Magistrates’ Court. Traditionally, the courts would request a psychiatric report if they needed information on a defendant’s mental health, but, with a liaison service in place, the information about an offender’s mental health is often already available and can be presented to the court by way of a brief screening report making a psychiatric report unnecessary. The aim of this research is to critically evaluate whether or not screening reports presented to magistrates at Bristol Magistrates’ Court are deemed by the magistrates to meet their needs. Through carrying out semi-structured interviews with fifteen Magistrates at Bristol Magistrates’ Court, the primary data explored the purpose of a Screening Report, how magistrates use the information to inform their decision making, what information they want and whether they are satisfied with the reports they are receiving. The research shows that the magistrates are overwhelmingly satisfied with the screening reports they are receiving. However, despite the satisfaction with the information provided, there is a great deal of variance of what information is needed. There is though an overwhelming view that a clear recommendation as to disposal options is required and this is the one thing that the mental health services cannot routinely provide. With out clear guidance from the Government about sentencing options for defendants with mental health issues, and the content of the reports, this research ultimately concludes that sentencers are grateful for any information provided in a timely and accessible fashion. Because of this, the Screening Report provided at Bristol Magistrates’ Court does meet the needs of the magistrates.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:15
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/735

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