What should be the legislation on forensic examination: a forensic psychiatric expert’s opinion

What should be the legislation on forensic examination: a forensic psychiatric expert’s opinion

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The most problematic and painful issue in the legislation on forensic examination is the state monopoly on certain categories of forensic examinations, including forensic psychiatric examination. Andriy Kanishchev, a forensic psychiatrist, offers his view on the problem and the ways of its solution.

But it was not always so. Until the 2000s, legislation did not contain such restrictions and allowed forensic activity on the principles of entrepreneurship and on one-off contracts. At that time, just several private experts worked in the field of forensic psychiatric examination; “Medex” firm was also fairly well known. Their activity fully satisfied the forensic investigation authorities, the examinations were carried out professionally and efficiently.

At the time when the state monopoly was introduced in 2004, no one seriously pointed to the problems associated with a private forensic psychiatric examination; no one voiced any significant claims to "private experts". The forensic psychiatric examination was "tightened" in the sphere of state monopoly behind the scenes, on the sly, only through the efforts of the leadership of some regional expert institutions, which saw it as a future threat to their monopoly. Moreover, the expert department of the Institute of Psychiatry was categorically against the introduction of a state monopoly.

Today we can clearly say it was a sad legislative miscalculation, and the current impasse in the forensic psychiatric expert service is largely due to this miscalculation. Private specialists, registered as subjects of entrepreneurial activity, are deprived of the right to conduct such examinations, even if they have the appropriate qualification. It is easier to work in a budget institution to a doctor of any medical specialty - surgeon, therapist, dermatovenerologist, and to bear all the hardships, knowing that on the horizon they have the potential to start a private practice. Forensic psychiatrists today are deprived of such prospects. Their entrepreneurial initiative is disappearing. Despite of the fact that material and social benefits, which had a significant weight in the second half of the 1990s, today devalued; they are chained to budget institutions.

There are system problems in service: personnel, material and moral. It is the personnel outflow. This lack of any incentive to work in forensic psychiatry with experienced psychiatrists, who in terms of training and personal qualities could be engaged in such activity. It is often administrative dictates of leadership. In our sphere, competition is needed as oxygen. The lack of competition, on the one hand, and the lack of prospects, on the other hand, today leads to professional burnout, and tomorrow will lead to the de-qualification of our specialists.

Dissonance in the organization of our branch, quite budgetary today, is that a significant number of examinations are conducted on paid terms for a long time. Expert examinations in civil cases are held for payment almost everywhere. Examinations in criminal cases are held for a fee, if it is outside the service area. In the Institute of Forensic Psychiatry, all expert examinations in criminal cases without exception are held for payment. So, the life itself shows the absurdity of such a monopoly and the lack of inner logic.

To be continued…