Disposal and Pre-Sentencing reports by Expert Psychiatrists

Mental Health is a major issue in offending behaviour, in fact the Prison Reform Trust state that 72% of male and 70% of female sentenced prisoners suffer from two or more mental health disorders.  An Expert Psychiatric report on Disposal and Pre-Sentencing options can be a vital document in assisting the judge to determine what punishment is most appropriate for a defendant who is convicted of a criminal offence.

Our Expert Psychiatrists are often instructed in criminal cases to assess the defendant in relation to disposal and pre-sentencing. This can be in response to the defendant entering a guilty plea, or being found guilty. Our Expert Psychiatrists are frequently instructed by the defendant’s solicitor to prepare a report to assess the person’s general mental health and to make recommendations for the judge to consider when sentencing. Expert Psychiatric reports for the purposes of disposal and pre-sentencing are generally funded by legal aid and we can provide up to three quotations from Expert Witness Psychiatrists to enable the solicitor to obtain Prior Authority for funding from the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). In many cases these assessments are conducted in prisons, as defendants are on remand. Our Expert Psychiatrists are highly experienced in working in such conditions and are able to travel to the prison and undertake the assessment in situ.

A disposal and pre-sentencing report can take a wide range of issues into account, as they are normally prepared at the end of a case when the evidence for both the defence and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has been presented. This evidence is sent to the Expert Psychiatrist in the form of a legal bundle and can include documents such as statements from the defendant as well as other witnesses, previous expert witness reports, police national computer (PNC) and medical records. Our Psychiatric Expert Witnesses will consider all of the relevant documentation in addition to undertaking their own Psychiatric assessment of the defendant and then form an opinion as to the person’s mental state and make recommendations for disposal and sentencing.

An Expert Psychiatric report into disposal and pre-sentencing recommendations should be a well structured, coherent document.  Our Expert Psychiatrists are very experienced and their reports are of the highest standard.  An Expert Psychiatric Report on a defendant’s general mental health with Disposal and Sentencing options prepared by one of our Expert Psychiatrists would normally include the following sections, assuming the relevant documentation is available:

Introduction – giving brief details of the case and instructions

Assessment & Consent – confirming where and when the assessment took place and that consent was received

Documents Examined – a list of the documents that were considered in preparation for the report

Author’s Details – a summary of the Expert Psychiatrist’s qualifications and experience

Information Gathered from the defendant – details reported by the defendant during the assessment. This could include Family & Personal history, details about their education and significant relationships

Drug and Alcohol History – information obtained from the defendant at the time of the assessment as well as medical or Police National Computer records

Criminal History – Self-reported information from the defendant and details of previous convictions or offending history from the Police National Computer

Past Medical & Psychiatric History – Again, a combination of self-reported information and details obtained from medical records

Mental Health Difficulties/Symptoms – Self-reported symptoms currently present as well as observations made by the Expert Psychiatrist, from the assessment

Index Offence – Details of the offence which the current proceedings relate to. These can be a combination of self-reported information and evidence from the papers received from both the defence and prosecution

Information from Documents – Expert Psychiatrists may wish to quote relevant points from the documentation received to corroborate or reinforce facts and opinions

Mental State Examination – Detailed summary of observations made by the Expert Psychiatrist based on the assessment and relevant documentation

Opinion and Recommendations – In this section the Psychiatrist will, where possible, give their expert opinion by drawing on all the points above and answering the questions raised in the letter of instruction. They will also state any additional matters for consideration that, whilst not necessarily requested in the letter of instruction, are important when considering the disposal & sentencing options for the defendant. In such cases it is important to clarify whether the defendant should be considered for a Hospital Order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act. This would normally be recommended when the Expert Psychiatrist concludes that the defendant’s mental disorder is of a nature or degree to warrant inpatient treatment. If the Psychiatrist’s expert opinion is that the defendant is not suffering from any mental disorder, or that it is not severe enough for a Hospital Order, then they may conclude that the defendant can be effectively managed in Prison.

Expert’s Declaration – this is a statement that the Expert Psychiatrist is aware of the requirements of Part 33 of the criminal procedure rules 2013. This covers Expert Witness evidence in all magistrates’ courts, the Crown Court and the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).

Statement of Truth – The Psychiatric Expert Witness must confirm he/she has made it clear which facts and matters referred to in the report are within their own knowledge and which are not. Those that are within their knowledge must be confirmed to be true. They must state that the opinions expressed represent their true and complete professional opinions on matters to which they refer. As Psychiatrists are medical expert witnesses providing a medico-legal report, they must also confirm that they are approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose of Section 12(2) of the Mental Health Act 1983.

Appendices – These can include a variety of details such as the Expert Psychiatrist’s CV, references & a glossary of terms.

If you would like to instruct one of our Psychiatrists to complete a medico-legal report for disposal and sentencing or any other matters then please contact us.  We can provide fixed costs for up to 3 Expert Psychiatrists as well as CVs and confirmed timescales within 24 hours of your enquiry.

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