In recent years, concerns have been raised that too many patients stay for too long in forensic psychiatric services and that this is a particular problem in those with an intellectual disability.

To compare the characteristics, needs, and care pathways of long-stay patients with and without intellectual disability within forensic psychiatric hospital settings in England.

File reviews and questionnaires were completed for all long-stay patients in high secure and a representative sample of those in medium secure settings in England. Between-group analyses comparing patients with and without intellectual disability are reported.

Of the 401 long-stay patients, the intellectual disability and non-intellectual disability groups were strikingly similar on many sociodemographic, clinical and forensic variables. The intellectual disability group had significantly lower lengths of stay, fewer criminal sections, restriction orders and prison transfers, and higher levels of behavioural incidents and risk assessment scores.

In spite of similar offence histories and higher risk levels, those with intellectual disability appear to be diverted away from the criminal justice system and have shorter lengths of stay. This has implications about the applicability of the Transforming Care programme to this group.

Verity Chester, Birgit Völlm, Samuel Tromans, Chaya Kapugama and Regi T. Alexander
BJPsych Open, 28 June 2018