The Scottish Sentencing Council has published a report on the sentencing of people with mental welfare difficulties.

This follows a discussion with interested stakeholders held last year to learn more about issues that can arise when people with mental welfare difficulties are sentenced.

Among the topics discussed was what the main purpose or purposes of sentencing offenders with mental welfare difficulties should be.

There was a general agreement that protection of the public, rehabilitation, and giving the offender the opportunity to make amends would be appropriate purposes in the sentencing of offenders with mental welfare issues.

Lord Turnbull, Senator member of the Scottish Sentencing Council said: “We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the conversation in what is a very important and challenging area.”

Structured deferred sentences and drug treatment and testing orders were suggested as examples of the type of monitoring and support which might be suitable for some offenders with mental health or welfare difficulties.

Lord Turnbull added: “The discussion was an example of the partnership approach that will be required across the criminal justice system in addressing current concerns. We will take account of the issues raised in the course of the discussion for which the Council has responsibility and share the report with the Scottish Government and other criminal justice organisations to progress the issues which fall out with the Council’s remit.”

The Council agreed that further consideration may be warranted in relation to making sure courts have sufficient information about any mental health or welfare issues at the point of sentencing, and the degree to which the level of culpability may vary across the spectrum of mental disorders.

Those who attended the discussion included representatives from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Prison Service, Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, SAMH, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, Social Work Scotland, State Hospital at Carstairs as well as members of the judiciary.

Click here to read the full report.