In my latest recent research, I am trying the international comparison between Japan and the UK in the policy against Mental Disordered Offenders (MDOs). Investigating current situation in Japan, I found something interesting.
This graph shows the proportion of persons who were identified or suspected as Mentally Disordered. The bar chart tells the absolute numbers, and the line graph suggest the change of the proportion. The data were obtained from White Paper on Crime, issued by Ministry of Justice. The data in 1996 was not found.
It is easy to recognize that the proportion has been increasing since 2005. Conventionally, Japan government explained that the proportion of MDOs in criminals was only 0.6%. However, the latest data suggest that the percentage has been doubled. What do you think of the findings?
It is extremely unlikely that people with mental disorders became violent in this decade. I have no idea for the reason. The absolute crime cases are declining recently in Japan. Although some people feel that public safety is threatened, it is not true as far as referring relevant statistics.
In 2005, the Medical Treatment and Supervision (MTS) act came into force. This legislation was established in order to provide appropriate care and treatment for patients who had committed serious crimes.
I hypothesize that, the police officers, who are likely to be the first person to deal with the offends caused by MDOs, has become aware of mental disorders in suspects because of the enactment of MTS act.
It is suggested that the introduction of court diversion scheme will increase the identification rate of mental disorders. Indeed, England experienced fourfold increase of compulsory admission after the court diversion started.
PubMed: Court diversion in perspective.
Previously, there was only one option for the police to deal with MDOs: allegation to Official Involuntary Hospitalization (OIH) administered by the prefectural governor. The situation of OIH was extremely varied in regions. In some areas, the police hesitated to allege because the public health centers were unlikely to accept their allegation. In such cases, they carried the MDOs to a psychiatric hospital nearby, calling for treatment without any official procedure. Such cases were not counted as MDOs in this statistics. In addition, many mental disorders seemed to be overlooked previously.
The enforcement of the MTS act changed the situation, even though the cases subjected to this scheme is limited. All people concerned have to be familiar with this new legislation. Some training courses and conferences regarding forensic mental health are held every year. I think that understanding of mental disorders among nonspecialists is gradually improved.
Nevertheless, there is a great discrepancy in treatment of MDOs between Japan and the UK or other countries. I never say Japan is inferior in all the difference. However, we should be more keen to the concern of mental disorders in relation to offending behaviors.