Publication date: September–October 2019
Source: International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Volume 66
Author(s): Machteld De Clercq, Freya Vander Laenen
Forensic psychiatric reports have a profound impact on the life of a defendant, on society and on the mental health system. Good-quality reports are essential but are often criticized for their lack of thorough substantiation. The use of multiple methods to obtain information, test instruments (psychological and/or risk) and third-party information are recommended.
To explore the use of test instruments and third-party information, as part of a multi-method approach, in forensic psychiatric evaluations. We examined 151 court-ordered expert reports in Flanders (Belgium).
A psychological test instrument was used in 61% of the cases, and a risk taxation instrument in 19% of the cases. Third-party information was used in 43% of the cases.
A multi-method approach is not common practice in forensic psychiatric evaluations. The use of validated test instruments and third-party information can be improved. The quality of forensic reports could be improved by the establishment of a forensic observation centre and the use of a standardized approach.