Stricter Dutch hospital custody rules planned

17th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The government intends to tighten up the rules on hospital detention and offenders with psychiatric problems. Deputy Justice Minister Fred Teeven has written to MPs detailing a number of proposed changes to the regulations.

In future, courts will be able to hand down hospital detention orders to defendants who have refused to co-operate with psychiatric assessment during their trials. At the moment, about 70 defendants a year refuse to be assessed and, because of this, cannot be ordered psychiatric treatment. They have to be handed down other sentences instead, often prison terms.

Mr Teeven wants courts to be given the power to assess defendants using their earlier psychiatric records. He also plans to tighten up the rules governing leave for long-term prisoners with psychiatric problems. Only low-security prisoners will in future be eligible for leave.

The move follows a number of high-profile cases over recent years where mentally disturbed prisoners have re-offended while on leave from secure hospitals.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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