Division of Psychiatry
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Forensic Psychiatry

Forensic psychiatry research concerns mentally disordered offenders and patients with major behavioural and mental health problems.

The University of Edinburgh is a centre for world-leading research in forensic mental healthcare.  Forensic mental health services assess and treat mentally disordered offenders (MDOs) and patients with major behavioural and mental health problems, in a range of secure health facilities and in the community, police stations, courts and prisons.

Led by Professor Lindsay Thomson, the forensic psychiatry research programme is underpinned by a commitment to support the recovery of MDOs and improve mental health, physical health and social outcomes of those who are or have been in the care of forensic mental health services. At this time of exciting national developments, including review of Scottish mental health law and the review into the delivery of forensic mental health services, we are engaged in projects to develop prison mental health services, implement evidence-based practices in forensic settings, and map pathways through Scottish forensic services for different groups of individuals.

We regularly partner with organisations such as Scottish Government, Police Scotland, Scottish Prison Service, Risk Management Authority, and the Forensic Mental Health Services Managed Network (‘Forensic Network’) in our research. We maintain a close working relationship with the Forensic Network, which is responsible for the strategic direction for forensic mental health care and offers central coordination among forensic services across the country. The group often joins in academic and research initiatives with the School of Forensic Mental Health, a virtual school hosted by the Forensic Network that delivers training and education for forensic practitioners and promotes research across the forensic mental health estate.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss opportunities to collaborate on research, or would like to enquire about student research projects.

Example projects

Project title Funder Investigators
Pathways through forensic mental health services in Scotland (starts February 2022) State Hospitals Board for Scotland Cheryl Rees, Lindsey Gilling McIntosh, Lindsay Thomson
Mental health of Scottish prisoners: a needs assessment Scottish Government Lindsay Thomson, Lindsey Gilling McIntosh, Cheryl Rees, The Forensic Network
Improving the health and well-being of people with dementia and cognitive frailty in prison (Lead: University of the West of Scotland) Dunhill Medical Trust Lindsay Thomson, Tom Russ with University of the West of Scotland: Rhoda MacRae, Helen Walker, James Taylor
Recovery Research in Action State Hospitals Board for Scotland Cheryl Rees, Lindsey Gilling McIntosh, Lindsay Thomson
Examining the effectiveness of the Forensic Matrix guide to evidence based psychological therapies in forensic mental health State Hospitals Board for Scotland / Forensic Network

Lindsey Gilling McIntosh, Suzanne O’Rourke (Clinical Psychology), Lindsay Thomson

Recovery approach for patients within high secure care: A 20+ year follow‐up study State Hospitals Board for Scotland Cheryl Rees, Lindsay Thomson
RCT of short-term effects of OROS-methylphenidate on ADHD symptoms in young offenders (Lead: King's College London) MRC & NIHR Lindsay Thomson, Philip Asherson (King’s College London)
Understanding Needs, Securing Public Safety: The Forensic Network Census and Database Forensic Network Lindsay Thomson