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Inpatient forensic-psychiatric care: legal frameworks and service provision in three European countries


Rachel Edworthy

Stephanie Sampson



Laws governing the detention and treatment of mentally disordered offenders (MDOs) vary widely across Europe, yet little information is available about the features of these laws and their comparative advantages and disadvantages. The purpose of this article is to compare the legal framework governing detention in forensic psychiatric care in three European countries with long established services for MDOs, England, Germany and the Netherlands. A literature review was conducted alongside consultation with experts from each country. We found that the three countries differ in several areas, including criteria for admission, review of detention, discharge process, the concept of criminal responsibility, service provision and treatment philosophy. Our findings suggest a profound difference in how each country relates to MDOs, with each approach contributing to different pathways and potentially different outcomes for the individual. Hopefully making these comparisons will stimulate debate and knowledge exchange on an international level to aid future research and the development of best practice in managing this population.


Edworthy, R., Sampson, S., & Völlm, B. (2016). Inpatient forensic-psychiatric care: legal frameworks and service provision in three European countries. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 47,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2016
Online Publication Date Apr 4, 2016
Publication Date Jul 1, 2016
Deposit Date Mar 31, 2016
Publicly Available Date Apr 4, 2016
Journal International Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Print ISSN 0160-2527
Electronic ISSN 1873-6386
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Keywords Forensic psychiatry; Mental health law; England; Germany; Netherlands
Public URL
Publisher URL


IJLP_1165_edit_report (3).pdf (189 Kb)

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