Police custody detainees and forensic medicine: Medical consumption in the cellblock

E. Blaauw, R. Lulf

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Various Dutch reports show that medical usage among those detained in police cells is many times higher than among the average population. Many visits by forensic physicians (some 36%) are due to the fact that many police custody detainees are addicted. Also, many visits are carried out as a result of the fact that the police must frequently put into custody individuals who suffer intoxications and/or injuries (some 13%) or psychiatric problems (6%-17%). In addition, many visits are for the benefit of detainees who cannot cope with conditions during their detention (21%-30%). Only a minority of the visits are to help police custody detainees who are (chronically) ill. Because of all this, a forensic physician's work mainly consists of writing repeat prescriptions, prescribing methadone, referring detainees to other assistance services and giving advice to guards or police officers on duty. This makes forensic medicine a profession in a class of its own.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-651
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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