MENTAL HEALTH TRIBUNAL: As a rule, you would need to be the victim of a serious crime. The offender would need to be a restricted patient and detained as a consequence of a mental disorder.
First-tier Tribunals (Mental Health) decide when a patient gets released. The victim of a crime can ask that the tribunal places certain conditions on the ‘discharge’. To make a ‘written representation’ you must be (either):
- The victim of a violent or a sexual offence committed by the detained patient.
- A close family member of a victim who is unable to represent themselves (e.g. mentally incapacitated, too young, or no longer alive).
Note: These procedures are for making victim representations to MHRT hearings in England. You must follow the ‘Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales’ or the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland.
Discharge Conditions for Restricted Patients
There are some restrictions and set procedures on handling representations from victims. But, mental health law allows certain discharge conditions such as:
- Banning a released patient from making any contact with the victim.
- The creation of ‘exclusion zones’ (e.g. areas that a discharged patient must not enter).
A tribunal cannot place discharge conditions on all released patients. They would only apply to restricted patients. An example of a restricted patient would be one that received an order from the Crown Court or got transferred from a prison.
Thus, a Mental Health Review Tribunal would not be able to place any discharge conditions on:
- Community treatment patients: Conditions can get placed by the patient’s doctor if they get released.
- Non-restricted patients: The patient’s psychiatrist would get the written representation instead if the offender got discharged.
When to Make a Victim Representation
For a Restricted Patient
Your Victim Liaison Officer will contact you if the offender of the crime was a restricted patient. The VLO will give you any updated information on:
- Whether anything is happening with detention of the patient.
- The dates and venue of any future hearings that may take place.
- The best time to make a victim representation to the Mental Health Tribunal.
Note: You can make direct contact with the tribunal if your Victim Liaison Officer does not contact you. Send a letter to:
First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health)
PO Box 8793
Leicester LE1 8BN
For a Non-restricted Patient
The hospital manager will contact you if the offender was a non-restricted patient. The manager will inform you if there will be a hearing.
How to Make a Victim Representation
You must fill in the correct document when making victim representations to MHRT. Download the file titled ‘Form T144: Victim’s representations to the Tribunal‘ and get help from your VLO before submitting it.
There are some limitations on what you can put in a victim representation. Thus, you must limit your statement to saying no more than:
- That fact that you feel some conditions should get placed on the patient (if and when they get discharged).
- What you think those particular conditions should consist of.
As a rule, you should not include anything else (e.g. how you feel about the release). An exception may apply if you believe it to be relevant to the conditions that you are requesting.
Note: A copy of the T144 victim’s representation form will go to all members of the tribunal panel.
Withholding a Representation from a Patient
In most cases, the patient can read all representations submitted to their own hearing. So, what happens if you want to withhold yours?
The mental health law allows you to ask for your representation to be withheld from the patient. But, they will only allow it under exceptional circumstances (e.g. if not doing so would create a risk to someone’s safety).
You should contact your VLO or the hospital manager if you want to withhold your victim statement. They will make a request to the tribunal on your behalf.
Attending a Mental Health Review Tribunal Hearing
It is rare for the tribunal to allow a victim to attend the patient’s hearing. In most cases, you must make a victim representation as a letter that gets read out at the hearing.
Write to the tribunal in advance if you feel there are exceptional circumstances. A letter for this type of request should explain why the patient and panel need to hear the representation in person.
Note: If the tribunal agrees to your attendance they will inform you of the time, the date, and the venue. In most cases, they will ask you to leave the room after making your representation.
The Tribunal Decision and Victims’ Rights
There are several different ways that the victim learns the decision made by a tribunal. The VLO will find out the tribunal’s decision in restricted cases. This usually occurs within seven (7) days after the hearing.
The hospital doctor will inform the victim of the tribunal’s decision in non-restricted cases.
Either way, your rights as the victim of the crime mean someone must tell you if:
- The patient is going to get discharged and when that will take place.
- Any conditions got placed on the patient that you need to know about.
- They make any changes to the conditions that they informed you about in the past.
- A restriction order is going to stop and when it will end.