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Our research includes projects in the epidemiology of mental illness and violent crime, violence risk assessment, prison health, pharmacoepidemiology studies, forensic services, and suicide and self-harm in prisoners and offenders.

© purplemattfish

Our main focus in Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology is to investigate associations and mechanisms for violent crime in severe mental illness, and develop scalable approaches to violence risk assessment. This work is funded by the Wellcome Trust.

We have worked alongside our colleagues at the Karolinska Institute to begin a definitive examination of the relationship between violent crime and both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and increased risk attributable to comorbid substance misuse. We have estimated that the proportion of violent crimes attributable to patients with these diagnoses is less than 5%, a finding which has been used by mental health charities to address patient stigma. Our investigations on the association of mental illness with specific violent crimes suggests the need for much closer collaboration of criminal justice and mental health services.

Although some research has focused on risk factors, the underlying causal mechanisms are still poorly understood. Our current and future programme of work addresses this, and will continue to translate these findings into more effective violence risk assessment for patients with severe mental illness and treatment focused on modifiable risk factors.

Recent Media Activity

"How To Interpret That Study Linking Violence And Antidepressants"
Huffington Post

"Is there a link between taking antidepressants and increased risk of committing violent crime?"
BBC World Service (from 8:39)

"Ex-prisoners with mental health problems 'more likely to reoffend'"
The Guardian

"Risk of sex offending linked to genetic factors, study finds"
The Guardian

"Clinically depressed three times more likely to commit violent crime"
Reuters

"Schizophrenia associated with increased rates of violence and suicide"
BMJ News

"Mental Illness Can Shorten Lives More Than Chain-Smoking"
National Public Radio

"Medications Cut Violence Among Mentally Ill in Study"
Wall Street Journal

Coin-toss justice, Seena Fazel
New Scientist

Book Review: The Drugs Don't Work?, Seena Fazel
PLoS Medicine Community Blog

"Brain injury survivors three times more likely to die prematurely"
The GuardianReuters

"Self-harm 'four times more likely' in female prisoners"
BBC News

Selected publications

Related research themes