High security internees: Who are they? Where do they come from? Where are they (not) going to?
Due to a shortage of forensic psychiatric beds in Belgium, internees with a high security need, often
stayed in detention for a long time. Since 2014, Flemish internees are being treated in Forensic Psychiatric Centers (FPC). Research concerning high security populations is scarce. This study reports on the first findings in Flanders. The population consisted of 585 patients placed under a mandatory treatment order (“internment”) in one of the two FPCs. The population is characterized by a high number of personality disorders, psychotic disorders and comorbidity. Judicial histories are extensive, with a high number of sexual index offences. During a five-year follow-up period, the number of referrals back to prison was low. Nearly a quarter of the population was discharged to a setting with a lower security level. However, many other referrals were not accepted. The study also showed that a subpopulation emerges with longer lengths of stay than anticipated. These patients are characterized by a higher number of personality disorders and more specifically higher psychopathy traits. The study highlights the need for clear criteria to estimate the required security level or transfer to a less secure setting, which are not yet available at this point.