Mental Health, Autism & Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Courts

Information for magistrates, district judges and court staff

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Mental Health Act summary


  • The Mental Health Act covers a small proportion of people with mental health conditions and learning diabilities, and provides the statutory framework for how they can be admitted, detained and treated in hospital against their wishes.
  • Part 3 of the Mental Health Act focuses on how it applies in the criminal justice system and permits the court to order a defendant's admission to hospital, for example, for a report to be prepared on their condition, or for medical treatment to be provided.
  • If you think that recourse to the Mental Health Act might be appropriate, you should seek advice from your legal adviser.

Further reading:

  • Information on forensic sections of the Mental Health Act and forensic mental health services is available from Rethink Mental Illness at

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