Dr Yin-Lan Soon1,2, Prof Kimberlie Dean1,2, Prof David Greenberg1,2, Dr Natasha Rae1,2, Dr Claire Gaskin2, Dr Daria Korobanova2, Dr Sara Singh1
1University of NSW (UNSW), Randwick, Australia, 2Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network, Malabar, Australia
Background/Aim: Over-representation of individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system. In response, court diversion programs were established to reduce the number of mentally ill persons in the criminal justice system. In New South Wales (NSW), the Statewide Community and Court Liaison Service (SCCLS) provides court diversion assessments and assistance to individuals with a mental illness appearing at local court. This study assesses the effectiveness of mental health court diversion in reducing criminal offending and improving health outcomes for those for court diversion seen by the SCCLS.
Methods: This data linkage study examined a cohort of individuals (from 2007 onwards) assessed by the NSW SCCLS for court diversion and linked to offending data held by NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR) via the Centre for Health Record Linkage (CHeReL). The statistical analysis involved a comparison of the criminal reoffending outcomes of those recommended and granted court diversion compared to those not granted court diversion. This comparison will include the three different types of diversion, and analysis of socio-demographics and clinical variables that impact on diversion and reoffending rates.
Results and Conclusion: Mental health court diversion is shown to be effective at reducing criminal reoffending outcomes for individuals with mental illness. Reduction in re-offending seen for both men and women, for both hospital-based and community-based diversion, and for both risk of any and violent reoffending.
Dr Yin-Lan Soon is a formally trained Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist. She graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the Australian National University (ANU). She is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (FRANZCP) and holds formal Certification of Advanced Training in Forensic Psychiatry. She holds a Master’s degree in Psychiatry (NSW Institute of Psychiatry) and an undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of science from the University of NSW (UNSW), Sydney. Dr Soon currently works as a lecturer in forensic mental health at UNSW and as a forensic psychiatrist with the community forensic mental health service (CFMHS) at Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network (JHFMN). In addition, Dr Soon is currently a part-time PhD candidate in the School of Psychiatry, at UNSW and was the receipt of the RANZCP Medlicott prize in 2018 for forensic psychiatry research.