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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. More recent work has focused on suicide prevention, particularly in people with severe mental illness.

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.

We are also working on outcome measures in forensic mental health (NIHR-funded, led by Howard Ryland), and a mixed-methods investigation of risk assessment for violence in early intervention services (NIHR-funded, led by Daniel Whiting). Other work with Manchester University is examining modifiable risk factors and risk prediction for repeat self harm in high risk prisoners (HTA-funded). We are also researching, as part of the Oxford ARC, risk factors and prediction models for self harm using information from electronic health records. We are also funded by the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre under the data science theme to examine risk stratification in mental illness, and the NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) to study risk prediction models in child and adolescent mental health.  

Recent Media Activity

"New analysis of isotretinoin and risk for adverse neuropsychiatric outcomes" 
Medscape (2022)

"Prisons, covid, and vaccines" 
The Washington post (2021)

"Experts call to include prisoners in COVID-19 vaccine health plans". 
Lancet World Report

"Jabs for Jailbirds". 
The Spectator

"Men with alcohol problems six times more likely to abuse partner"
BBC (2019)

"Common nerve pain drug linked to suicidal behavior, overdose". 

"No overcrowding link to prison suicide, study suggests"
BBC News

"Drug and alcohol abuse medications shown to improve patients' lives"
University of Oxford News

"Giving ex-prisoners psychiatric drugs leads to huge cut in reoffending rates, study finds"
The Independent

"Childhood traumatic brain injury and long term outcomes"
BBC World Service [mp3] & PLOS paper

"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"

"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 

Our team


JAMA Psychiatry - TBI Author Tables

40 KB, Microsoft Office - Word Document

Recidivism Reporting Checklist

50 KB, PDF document

Related research themes