WHAT IS THE ROLE OF MENTAL HEALTH (CRIMINAL LAW) REVIEW BOARD?

The Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board is an independent, statutory body responsible for reviewing the detention of patients in the Central Mental Hospital (currently the only designated centre defined by the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006) who have been referred there arising from a decision by the courts that they are unfit to be tried or, having been found not guilty of an offence by reason of insanity.  The Board is also responsible for reviewing the detention in the Central Mental Hospital of prisoners, including military prisoners, suffering from mental disorders who have been transferred there from prison and military personnel referred by tribunals operating under the relevant Defence Acts.

WHO SITS ON THE BOARD?

Three members currently sit on the Board to review the detention of a patient.  A Chairperson, who has to have not less than ten years experience as a practising barrister or practising solicitor ending immediately before his or her appointment or who has to be a judge or former judge of the Circuit Court, High Court or Supreme Court; an approved medical officer and an ordinary member.

WHO APPOINTS THE MEMBERS OF THE REVIEW BOARD?

Members of the Review Board are appointed by the Minister for Justice and Equality, following consultation with the Minister for Health, in accordance with Schedule 1 of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.  

WHO CAN REQUEST A REVIEW?

Reviews of the detention of patients, outside of those regularly scheduled, can be triggered in a number of ways and in certain circumstances laid down by the Act, at the behest of the Board, at the request of the Minister, at the request of a patient or at the request of the Clinical Director.

WHO CAN ATTEND REVIEW BOARD HEARINGS?

•    The patient* and legal representative.
•    The Minister for Justice and Equality or the Minister for Defence, as appropriate, are entitled to be heard or represented.
•    The Director of Public Prosecutions is entitled to be heard or represented.
•    Witnesses called by the Board or by the patient.

* A patient shall not be required to attend before the Review Board if, in the opinion of the Board, such attendance might be prejudicial to their mental health, well-being or emotional condition.

HOW OFTEN ARE PATIENTS ASSESSED?

The Act provides that the Board shall ensure that the detention of a patient is reviewed at least every six months. Decisions of the Board are given where reasonably possible within fourteen working days.


WHERE ARE BOARD HEARINGS HEARD?

Generally, Board meetings take place in the Central Mental Hospital, Dublin.

DOES THE BOARD PROVIDE A LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE PATIENT?

As required by section 12(1) of the Act, the Board assigns a legal representative under its Legal Aid support scheme to the patient whose detention is the subject of review unless he or she proposes to engage one. Read about the Legal Aid Scheme here