UAE to develop forensic psychiatry services for criminals

Abu Dhabi's National Rehabilitation Centre will provide services to convicts with mental disorders


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Dr Hamad Al Ghafri and Patrick Moody during a workshop held at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Abu Dhabi. — Supplied photo
Dr Hamad Al Ghafri and Patrick Moody during a workshop held at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Abu Dhabi. — Supplied photo

Published: Mon 22 Nov 2021, 7:37 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 Nov 2021, 8:07 PM

The National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) on Monday rolled out a project to develop forensic psychiatry services in Abu Dhabi for criminals suffering from mental illnesses.

Forensic psychiatry services are provided to convicts with mental disorders that require treatment in psychiatric facilities, individuals suffering from mental illnesses, and those accused of violence and sexual crimes.

The services are also available to individuals acquitted due to their inability to appear before court on account of mental illness, those with psychiatric issues including prisoners, patients with a history of criminal behaviour, and high-risk serious offenders who have either been released from penal and correctional facilities, or admitted to mental hospitals.

The project was launched in collaboration with several ministries, departments and government entities in the UAE and abroad, including South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, a leading psychiatry treatment and research centre in the United Kingdom.

As part of the project, the centre hosted a workshop at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi that drew the participation of Patrick Moody, British Ambassador to the UAE. The workshop highlighted various aspects of forensic psychiatry services covering assessment, treatment and support services for individuals with mental disorders associated with repeated criminal behaviour.

The workshop outlined the progress of the project, and the action plan for implementing the next phases and engaging various entities dealing with cases of psychological disorders as part of their daily work, or organisations offering criminal justice and related medical services. In addition, the session highlighted the role of various stakeholders in granting data access for the project team, to ensure that the action plan fulfills Abu Dhabi’s specific requirements.

Addressing the workshop, Dr Hamad Al Ghafri, director-general of NRC said: “At NRC, we aim to develop an array of services to better meet the needs of society, in line with the latest scientific approaches in the treatment of drug addiction. After years of international studies and clinical experiences, we know that acute mental illness can lead to violence, and in many instances tragic crimes that result in dire consequences not only for the offenders, but also for their families and society.

“It is our collective responsibility to come up with solutions that make a real difference in our society. Community awareness is the key. Today, our commitment is not limited to supporting the government’s medium and long-term visions, but also catering to the needs of Emirati society, through supporting projects that can bring about a positive change in people’s lives.”

Upon completion, the project will allow relevant organisations to benefit from the expertise of psychiatry specialists and provide best-in-class forensic psychiatric services in Abu Dhabi.

According to several scientific studies, acute mental disorder may cause a person to commit crimes, as studies involving patients suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and other major psychiatric disorders have shown an increase in criminal behaviour.

The project involves three phases, beginning with data collection to analyse the need for forensic psychiatry services in Abu Dhabi. Based on the data collected, the service delivery plan, the care model and the required specifications will be determined. In phase three, a strategic study, including a strategic framework for psychiatric services in Abu Dhabi, will be developed.

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