A three-year joint study carried out by Kings College London, Kingston University and St George’s University of London (in collaboration with University College London), is the first British survey to examine crime victims with a mental illness compared to the general public.
The study in question estimated that around 50% of the 361 respondents (all of whom had some form of mental illness) had experienced a crime in the past year. Unfortunately however, despite the fact that individuals who have a mental illness are three times more likely to be victimised, those questioned said they more often than not felt doubted and that they were treated unfairly by the police when they sought help after a crime.
The findings, which were put together by a number of universities and the charities Mind and Victim Support, also included the following shocking figures:
- The risk of assault is five times higher among people with a severe mental illness than it is for the general population.
- The risk of assault among severely mentally ill women is 10 times higher than for the general population.
- The risk of experiencing three or more crimes in one year is seven times higher among those with a mental illness than it is for the general population.
Despite the figures showing that those with a mental illness are more likely to be victimised, those interviewed said that when they did seek help, they felt both the police and other agencies treated them unethically. Many also reported finding it difficult to convince the police to take their reports seriously – with some victims leaving with the impression that they were to blame for the incident.
Chief executive of Victim Support, Javed Khan, believes it is scandalous that society’s most vulnerable are so often the victims of crime yet are met with disbelief and blame when attempting to seek help.
“It is unacceptable that the criminal justice system fails to meet the needs of people with mental health problems when this report shows all too clearly the terrible impact of crime on them.” He said.