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Mental Health Services

Volume 476: debated on Thursday 22 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being taken to ensure that forensic medical examiners are qualified to diagnose mental health problems. (184179)

I have been asked to reply.

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) offers some police-based training to forensic physicians and works in conjunction with the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine (FFLM). The FFLM ensures that individuals employed in this field receive the appropriate support through regular medical updates and a facilitation service provided by experienced, subject matter experts.

Further, external training is also available in order to assist medical staff to assess the mental health state of persons in custody and to make judgement on whether they are, or are not, fit enough to be detained and/or interviewed (Section 12 of the Mental Health Act 1983—‘assessment of persons in custody’ sets this process out in detail). The NPIA ensures that student medical examiners are made aware of these procedures, but does not train them to ‘Section 12 Approved doctor’ status as referred to under the Act. Section 12 training is approved by regional approval panels which oversee the appointment of doctors applying for section 12 approval.