Conditional discharge of six patients from the Central Mental Hospital in 2020

Unit designated under Act at new national forensic service campus in county Dublin

Discharge of six patients from the Central Mental Hospital was approved last year, subject to conditions, compared with five conditional discharges in 2019.

The average duration of detention in the hospital for the conditionally discharged patients was seven years. The two shortest durations averaged four years and the two longest averaged 10 years.

It should be noted, stated the newly published annual report of the Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board, that the length of time a patient has been detained in the hospital was neither a necessary nor a sufficient ground, in itself, for granting a conditional discharge.

Four applications for unconditional discharge were received in 2020 from patients who had been conditionally discharged for 12 months or more. There had also been two outstanding applications from 2019.

The Board granted three unconditional discharges in 2020 and one application was refused. One application was withdrawn by the applicant and the hearing of another application was adjourned, to be resumed this year.

The Board must review the detention of each patient at intervals of not greater than six months. During 2020, a total of 90 patients had their detention reviewed by the Board. Of those 90 patients, 10 or 11 per cent were female and 80 or 89 per cent were male.

Of the 90 patients, 66 per cent had been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, 17 per cent were suffering from schizoaffective disorder and 17 per cent were diagnosed with other disorders.

It should be noted that primarily the same core group of patients were reviewed by the Board each year, added the report.

In fact, for the first time, the Board had conducted 33rd, 34th and 35th reviews into the detention of some patients in 2020. Of the 203 review hearings, nine were a 33rd review, four were a 34th review and one was a 35th review.

The majority of review hearings were of patients who had been committed to the Central Mental Hospital under Section 5(2) of the 2006 Act, having been found not guilty of an offence by reason of insanity.

The Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, is currently a designated centre under the legislation for the reception, detention and care or treatment of people committed or transferred there.

In April 2020, one Unit on the new National Forensic Health Service campus in Portrane was also designated for the reception, ‘detention and care or treatment of persons or classes of persons committed or transferred thereto’ under the provisions of the criminal law insanity legislation of 2006, due to the necessity to provide additional accommodation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The remit of the independent Review Board, under the 2006 Act, as amended by the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2010, includes the power to order the continued detention of patients or to order either their conditional, or unconditional discharge, having regard to the welfare of the patient and to the public interest.

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