Systematic review of the international literature on the epidemiology of mentally disordered offenders


The aim of this project was to establish the prevalence, incidence and antecedents of mentally disordered offenders through the following objectives: to identify clear criteria for defining mentally disordered offenders to review the literature relating to the population of mentally disordered offenders in (a) special hospitals, medium secure and interim secure units and private hospitals, (b) those receiving in-patient care through other psychiatric provision, (c) those with mental health problems in the prison population (d) those receiving a service through community mental health teams (e) those presenting to the Courts and police service as mentally disordered offenders.


No systematic epidemiological study of mentally disordered offenders in its own right was found. Those studies which provide data on mentally disordered offenders generally make poor use of statistical methodology. Professional epidemiological and statistical input is required to fully exploit existing data and adequately plan future studies of mentally disordered offenders.

Conducted by: Doug Badger1, Mark Woodward2, Paul Williams1, Jean Nursten1, Pamela Taylor3, Trevor Sheldon4

1. Department of Professional Education in Community Studies, University of Reading; 2. Department of Applied Statistics, University of Reading; 3. Broadmoor Hospital Authority and The Maudsley Institute of Psychiatry; 4. NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination


NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. Systematic review of the international literature on the epidemiology of mentally disordered offenders. CRD Report 15. York: University of York. 1999

Badger D, Vaughan P, Woodward M, Williams P. Planning to meet the needs of offenders with mental disorders in the United Kingdom. Psychiatr Serv. 1999;50:1624-7

Williams P, Badger D, Nursten J, Woodward M. A review of recent academic literature on the characteristics of patients in British special hospitals. Crim Behav Ment Health. 1999;9(4):296-314

Woodward M, Williams P, Nursten J, Badger D. The epidemiology of mentally disordered offending: a systematic review of studies, based in the general population, of criminality combined with psychiatric illness. J Epidemiol Biostatistics. 1999;4(2):101-13


Commissioned by the High Security Psychiatric Services Commissioning Board