Forty-five revolutions per minute: a qualitative study of Hybrid Order use in forensic psychiatric practice

V. Beech, C. M. Marshall, T. Exworthy, J. Peay, N. J. Blackwood

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Psychiatrists who recommend a Hybrid Order (Section 45A) as a disposal option at the point of sentencing in England and Wales accept that the convicted individual, as well as being mentally disordered and in need of treatment, is also culpable and deserving of criminal punishment. Ethical and clinical concerns have typically limited its clinical use. However, in 2015 the Court of Appeal specified in R v Vowles and others that the Hybrid Order disposal should be considered first in terms of potential mental health disposals. This judgement sets a high threshold for the use of the hospital order which has been the bedrock of inpatient forensic psychiatric practice since 1983. This study sought to explore the attitudes of consultant forensic psychiatrists towards the use of the Hybrid Order in the wake of the Vowles judgement. We interviewed 12 consultant forensic psychiatrists with longstanding experience of psychiatric sentencing recommendations. We found that the majority of consultants considered the Hybrid Order to be a valuable disposal option when used under specific circumstances. However, significant concerns were raised about its use in those with an enduring psychotic illness. Community aftercare arrangements for Hybrid Order disposals were viewed as inferior to community aftercare arrangements for Section 37/41 patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-447
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Early online date12 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019


  • culpability
  • hospital and restriction direction
  • Hybrid order
  • Mental Health Act


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