Forensic mental health services assess and treat people who are called ‘mentally disordered offenders’ under the Mental Health Act and who are detained in secure health facilities.

The State Hospital at Carstairs is the only High Secure facility in Scotland and this is only for male patients, but there are male and female patients receiving treatment in 3 medium secure units: The Orchard Clinic in Edinburgh, Rohallion in Perth and Rowanbank in Glasgow. There are several low secure facilities across Scotland including Intensive Psychiatric Care Units (IPCUs) and locked wards in local hospitals.

It is vital that people’s rights are safeguarded when their liberty is taken away from them, and that they receive the best care and treatment that meets their needs. It is also a difficult time for family members and carers who have had to cope with the trauma of their relative reaching crisis and committing an offence and coming into contact with the police and perhaps the prison services. They are then supporting people being cared for in a highly restricted environment, and families can feel completely excluded from the decisions that are taken that impact on the whole family.

The actions we are taking:

  • Produced a major research study “Exploring the Experiences of family members of people in forensic mental health services” (‘forensic carers’) See report and discussion paper by clicking here
  • Facilitating the National Forensic Carers Network
  • Working to implement an action plan to improve information and support for forensic carers

Caring Connections

We have now set up 'Caring Connections' - our new national service for carers (family/friends) of people being treated within forensic mental health services throughout Scotland.

Forensic Mental Health Carers are people of any age who provide unpaid support for a relative or friend who is within forensic mental health services, including people in low, medium and high security hospitals throughout Scotland as well as in community settings with the support of Forensic Community Mental Health Teams,

The three medium secure units are in Edinburgh, Perth and Glasgow, and the high secure unit is the State Hospital at Carstairs.  There are other low secure units throughout Scotland.

The service is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Our National Forensic Carer co-ordinator Lorraine Keith explained: "We will provide support and appropriate information to carers throughout the key stages of their journey through the Forensic Mental Health Services. 

"By doing this the carer may feel better supported and informed of their own rights and more able to support their relative/friend who is receiving care and treatment.  Supporting families and friends in this way may go some way to maintaining or rebuilding relationships.

"Our recent research, ‘Exploring Family Carer Involvement in Forensic Mental Health Services’ (available by clicking here) found that forensic carers need support right from the first admission of their relative/friend to forensic services through to eventual discharge in some cases.

"Forensic carers are often not seen as carers by others – even statutory providers – therefore increasing their sense of isolation and emotional distress not to mention the stigma that is often associated with forensic services."

Lorraine is keen to hear from anyone who may be interested in this service, whether a carer or service provider.

Please contact Lorraine Keith on 07951066234 or [email protected] for more information or to let me have your thoughts on this service.