The question of whether or not individuals should be released from mental health institutions generates huge public interest, despite the fact that people with mental health problems are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it. Mental health trusts use controversial tools created by psychiatrists to predict future violent behaviour, and increasingly these tools are also used in the probation system. In the US experts are even brought in to predict future violent behaviour and determine how long the sentence should be.
However, these controversial tools have been coming under increased scrutiny and there are concerns over whether, at worst, they are being used to make claims that cannot be supported and, at best, are wasting already limited resources.
Prof Jeremy Coid, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Director of Forensic Psychiatry Research Unit, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Seena Fazel, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford and Honorary Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist
Dr Fin Larkin, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Broadmoor Hospital