Although crime victimisation is as prevalent in psychiatric patients as crime perpetration (and possibly more so), few European figures for it are available. We therefore assessed its one-year prevalence and incident rates in Dutch severely mentally ill outpatients, and compared the results with victimisation rates in the general population.
This multisite epidemiological survey included a random sample of 956 adult severely mentally ill outpatients. Data on victimisation were obtained using the victimisation scale of the Dutch Crime and Victimisation Survey, which assesses crime victimisation over the preceding 12 months. Comparison data were derived from the nationwide survey on safety and victimisation in the Netherlands. Prevalence and incident rates were weighted for sex, age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, and compared with a general population sample matched by region (N = 38,227).
In the past year, almost half of the severely mentally ill outpatients (47%) had been victim of a crime. After control for demographic differences, prevalence rates of overall and specific victimisation measures were significantly higher in severely mentally ill outpatients than in the general population. The relative rates were especially high for personal crimes such as violent threats (RR = 2.12, 95% CI: 1.72–2.61), physical assaults (RR = 4.85, 95% CI: 3.69–6.39) and sexual harassment and assaults (RR = 3.94, 95% CI: 3.05–5.09). In concordance, severely mentally ill outpatients reported almost 14 times more personal crime incidents than persons from the general population (IRR = 13.68, 95% CI: 12.85–14.56).
Crime victimisation is a serious problem in Dutch severely mentally ill outpatients. Mental-healthcare institutions and clinicians should become aware of their patients’ victimisation risk, and should implement structural measures to detect and prevent (re-)victimisation.