We know from the wider literature that people with mental health problems face considerable discrimination, poverty and social exclusion (see Chapters 4 and 9), factors known to contribute to criminal activity in the wider population. Moreover, some people with mental health problems probably commit some crimes knowing that what they are doing is illegal — in such situations, the criminal activity may be little different from crimes committed by people without mental health problems and should be punished through the criminal justice system. According to Sayce (2000: 226), therefore, there are a number of key messages which we need to test out on the public and the media: Most crime is committed by people without mental health problems.People with mental health problems often commit crimes for the same reasons as everyone else (poverty, drink and drugs, family/relationship frustrations).It is extremely rare for people with mental health problems to attack someone they don’t know.People with mental health problems are more often victims than perpetrators of crime.People with mental health problems can usually be held responsible for their crimes.
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