The Mental Health Acts 1983 and 2007 and the offender-patient who absconds from hospital [2017]

Absconding from mental hospitals is a topic worth investigating because absconding usually has a variety of adverse consequences, not only for the absconders but also for the public and so forth. From a medical perspective, there have been several studies of absconding by mental patients and the harm they cause to themselves and others while they are at large. However, there is a paucity of such studies from a purely legal perspective. This study aims to contribute to the literature from a legal perspective by focusing on the offender-patient who absconds from hospital. It is argued, inter alia, that given the various ramifications of absconding from hospital, it is unsatisfactory that some offender-patients (specifically those on a hospital order without restrictions; s37 of the Mental Health Act 1983) could only be retaken within 28 days when they abscond from hospital, whereas non-offender patients in hospital under s3 of the same Act could be retaken within six months at least. Recommendations for reform of the law are duly tendered.

Benjamin Andoh

Medicine, Science and the Law, Vol 57, Issue 4, 2017