If you’re the victim of a serious crime by a restricted patient detained because of mental illness, you can ask for certain conditions on their release (‘discharge’).
The First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) decides when patients can be released.
You can ask the tribunal to place conditions on the patient’s release if you’re a:
- victim of a violent or sexual offence by the patient
- close family member of a victim who can’t do it themselves, for example they’ve died, are mentally incapacitated or they’re too young
This is known as ‘a written representation’.
Conditions you can ask for
Discharge conditions can include:
- banning the patient from contacting you
- making ‘exclusion zones’ that the patient isn’t allowed to enter
The tribunal can only place discharge conditions on restricted patients, for example patients who’ve received an order from the Crown Court or been transferred from prison.
The tribunal can’t place conditions on:
- non-restricted patients - your written representation will be given to the patient’s psychiatrist if they’re discharged
- community treatment patients - the patient’s doctor may be able to place conditions on their discharge
When to make your representation
You’ll be contacted by your Victim Liaison Officer (VLO) who will tell you:
- what’s happening with the patient’s detention
- the dates of any future hearings
- when you can make your representation
Contact the tribunal if you haven’t been contacted by a VLO.
You’ll be contacted by the hospital manager when there’s going to be a hearing.
How to make your representation
Your VLO will help you fill in the victim representation form.
You must say only:
- that you think conditions should be placed on the patient, if discharged
- what those conditions should be
Don’t include anything else, for example your feelings, unless it’s relevant to the conditions you’re requesting.
All members of the tribunal panel will get a copy of your representation form.
Withholding your representation from the patient
Patients can usually read all representations at their hearing. You can ask for your representation to be withheld from the patient, but this will only be allowed under exceptional circumstances, for example if someone’s safety will be put at risk.
Contact your VLO or the hospital manager who will ask the tribunal on your behalf.
Attending a hearing
You usually won’t be allowed to attend and make your representation at the hearing.
If you think there are exceptional circumstances, write to the tribunal in advance explaining why you need to be heard in person.
You’ll be told the time and place if the tribunal agrees to let you attend. You’ll probably be asked to leave after you’ve made your representation.
The tribunal’s decision
In restricted cases, your VLO will be told about the tribunal’s decision within 7 days of the hearing.
In non-restricted cases, a hospital doctor will tell you the tribunal’s decision.
You have a right to know:
- if and when the patient is going to be discharged
- any conditions placed on the patient that you need to know
- any changes to conditions that you’ve been told of in the past
- if and when a restriction order is going to stop
Scotland and Wales
This tribunal is for England. There are separate Mental Health Tribunals for Wales and Scotland.