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Entitlements and experiences of victims of mentally disordered offenders

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Overview

This report calls for victims of mentally disordered offenders (MDOs) to be given the same rights as all other crime victims.

The trauma and distress experienced by victims of serious sexual and violent crime, including homicide, are the same irrespective of the status of their offender. As such, it would seem only right that victims of all such crimes should receive the same level of support and the same entitlements. Entitlements under the Victims Code are intended to provide support for victims throughout their criminal justice journey and in turn, help them to cope and recover.

The report is based on a review of relevant policy and the experiences of nine bereaved victims of homicide, where the crimes were perpetrated by mentally disordered offenders. The report concludes that the current position does not offer equal treatment to these victims. Instead, the current position makes a distinction between victims whose offenders are serving prison sentences and those who are patients detained in mental health hospitals. There is yet further distinction made between the victims of “restricted” and “unrestricted” patients. Whilst these distinctions are based upon the status of the offender, the result is a disparity of treatment for the victim.