The forensic child and adolescent mental health service (FOCUS) in Wakefield were invited to attend the 2013 Faculty of Forensic Psychiatry Annual conference in Copenhagan in February, hosted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
The team were invited to present their approach to multidisciplinary assessments for court by hosting a workshop. They also presented a poster on three high profile cases where young people had committed serious crimes and how they were dealt with in UK, Norway and Switzerland. Ms Paula Phillips, team leader, attended with Dr Abdullah Kraam and Ms Helen Purdy and along with presenting their own work, the team enjoyed the opportunity to share learning with colleagues from across the forensic field.
The FOCUS team work with young people in Wakefield who have mental health problems and are in contact with the criminal justice system. The young people can be in the community (e.g. on an order with the Youth Offending Team) or in the secure estate (e.g. a childrens secure centre or a youth offending institution).
Paula said, “Our team was privileged to have the opportunity to attend the conference in Copenhagen, to present the innovative approach that we have adopted for working alongside other teams in Wakefield to produce reports for court cases involving the young people we are in touch with. This model embraces multidisciplinary working and we are one of the first teams to use this approach to produce multi disciplinary court reports – so it was great for this to be recognised by our representation at the conference.
“Attending the conference was a great opportunity to hear about other practices being pursued in the forensic field at the moment. Being introduced to other areas of research makes you want to come back and find out more about it – and see how you can adopt the elements of good practice within your own work.
“The focus of the conference was on adult, child and adolescent psychiatry and staff from the Trust’s forensic BDU service in Wakefield were also there – which gave us a great opportunity to connect and make links between our service which works with young people, and theirs which works with adults.
“By attending other workshops we were able to find out lots of information that we have brought back and shared with our team here. For example a workshop about the different options within the law for supporting young people was really insightful. It has led to discussions within our team about options that we may be able to consider in the future when making recommendations about this to other services and the court system.
“Attending the conference also helped us to understand where our team – and the work we do – fits within the forensic psychiatry field regionally, nationally and internationally. Our team are often asked to contribute to national policies as they are being developed – and keeping the things we’ve learnt in mind from the conference when doing this, will ensure policies are developed that are relevant to service users, carers and their families today.
“I would like to say thank you to the Trust, and in particular Ann Rutter, for supporting our team to attend the conference. It was a wonderful opportunity to share learning about our efforts to use a multidisciplinary approach as well as find out more about innovative ideas being developed in the sector. My team is grateful for the opportunity to represent the Trust at a conference of high international standing. We will definitely be submitting work again with the hope of it being selected for the 2014 conference.”