VICTIMS of crime are to be notified when offenders are released from psychiatric hospitals in a shake-up of Scotland’s mental health laws.
Under the existing law, victims are only informed about the release of an offender if the perpetrator of the crime is serving their sentence in a prison.
However, the notification scheme will now be extended to offenders who are detained in hospital under a mental health order, Scotland’s public health minister Michael Matheson announced.
Victims will be notified if the offender is about to be released from a mental health institution, on a permanent or temporary basis, or if they have escaped.
The information will cover those serving indictable offences punishable by a custodial sentence of 12 months or greater.
Mr Matheson said the measure was part of a series of amendments being made to the mental health (care and treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, published at parliament.
He said: “It is more than ten years since the introduction of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act in 2003. We have therefore introduced further measures to continue to protect and promote the human rights of mentally ill patients, and to protect the public.
“It is right that all victims of crime should be told if the offender is released back into the community, whether that person is in a prison or a mental health institution. This Bill will give victims the right to have access to that information.”
The bill also includes a plan for a new central register of advance statements, which record how mentally ill patients want to be treated in the event of them losing the capacity to make their own decisions.