Forensic psychiatric care is aimed at improving mental health and reducing the risk of recidivism of mentally disordered offenders. Due to different legal frameworks, policies and resources in EU countries, treatment programs and care provided for these offenders vary substantially within Europe.
During the last two decades the number of forensic beds has increased rapidly in several countries. The duration of treatment is also increasing. Strong societal demands for coercive measures against “dangerous” mentally disordered persons and an increasing focus on reducing risk, as well as reduced funding for aftercare are likely contributory factors for these changes. And consequently, a significant proportion of mentally disordered offenders may require long-term, potentially life-long, forensic psychiatric care.
Within this COST Action researchers and clinicians join their expertise and research activities to set the basis for comparative evaluation and research on effective treatment and the development of ´best practice´ in long-term forensic psychiatry in Europe. Their aim is to develop cost effective policies in forensic services, evidence-based practice in long-term forensic care and optimize patients´ quality of life.
A European network of clinicians and researchers work together to tackle the lack of knowledge on the determinants of long-term forensic psychiatric care, to define the required mental health services, to determine the specific needs of the particular population of offenders, and to address the ethical issues involved.
In order to accomplish this for a very heterogeneous and fragmented population of mentally disordered offenders, a common language, shared definitions and standardized conceptualizations are needed. Through cooperation on an international level, the Action aims to solve these issues and establish evidence based ‘best practice’ long-term forensic psychiatric care.
COST is an intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, allowing the coordination of nationally-funded research on a European level. The specific goal of COST is to reduce the fragmentation in European research investments and opening the European Research Area to cooperation worldwide. For more information about COST, click here.