Written by Jack Tomlin – PhD student at Nottingham University
This STSM was undertaken with the aim of developing over the coming years a tool to measure restrictiveness in (long-term) forensic psychiatric care. In December of 2015, I was fortunate enough to receive COST Action funding to undertake an STSM in the Netherlands and I welcomed gladly the opportunity to visit several Dutch forensic institutions and the Expertisecentrum Forensische Psychiatrie.
The ‘Dutch approach’ seems to have become quite en mode in discussions of forensic psychiatric care in the UK. I recently attended an end of project conference on Long-term forensic psychiatric care (LFPC) wherein comparisons of British and Dutch secure settings provoked fruitful discussion. Typically, the Dutch are seen as being less restrictive, more liberal and QoL-focused in their care approach than the British. This is evidenced most strongly in patients’ rights of sexual expression. In the UK, although not codified in any national policy, sexual relationships between patients are prohibited – in the Netherlands, this is not the case. Indeed, a week prior to my arrival in December, two individuals; one from a secure care ward in Nijmegen, another from the long-stay centre in Zeeland, wed in the latter’s chapel.