Description: Written by forensic experts in the U.K., this book offers a brief glimpse at many of the primary issues found at the intersection of the law and psychiatry.
Purpose: The authors' primary purpose is to "enable readers to find out some of the key facts and issues within a given topic simply, rapidly, and in an easily digestible form."
Audience: They suggest their book is "for everyone who is interested in, or encounters practitioners of, forensic psychiatry and related disciplines."
Features: Divided into four main sections (excluding the introduction), each section contains material heavily cross-referenced, not only within the pages of this book, but also with the DSM-IV. Symbols and abbreviations indicate whether subjects are "controversial topics," are "important," or if the material requires a "warning." Numerous case vignettes, boxes, and tables illustrate important points, and appendixes detail specific areas of the law (for example, legal cases and ethical codes).
Assessment: Given that many psychiatrists and mental health professionals have direct experience with forensic issues, it is important for them to have resources to navigate the, at times, treacherous waters of the legal system. This book allows them to wade into the shallows without fear of being overcome by a rip tide. Though clearly a highly condensed work, it explains difficult concepts well and, more importantly, directs readers where to go to obtain additional information. From a practical standpoint, because laws are so highly variable from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (not to mention from country to country), some of the information in this book is not applicable to practitioners in the U.S. For this reason, it is much more relevant for those training or practicing in the U.K.