Skip to main content

Forensic Psychiatric Services

The Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission provides court-related forensic psychiatric assessment, treatment and community case management to adults with mental health disorders who are in conflict with the law.

Our specialized forensic mental health teams work to enable the re-integration of patients back into the community.

Core services

We provide specialized assessment, treatment and case management services

These services include:

  • Court-ordered assessments
  • Inpatient and community-based services to persons found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder (NCRMD) or Unfit to Stand Trial
  • Psychiatric / Psychological Pre-sentence Assessment Reports
  • Hospital treatment of adults with mental health disorders who are in conflict with the law and in provincial correctional centres, admitted on temporary absence to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital
  • Court-ordered assessment and treatment of individuals on bail, probation and conditional sentences

The FPSC supports a team approach to patient care and service delivery. Our specialized mental health teams include psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers and rehabilitation specialists. The FPSC teams work together to ensure patients are supported with a coordinated and comprehensive range of services, and also collaborate with other professionals and community partners.


British Columbia's Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission (FPSC) is a multi-site health organization providing specialized hospital and community-based assessment, treatment and clinical case management services for adults with mental health disorders who are in conflict with the law. This unique provincial service ensures that forensic psychiatric patients throughout the province have equitable access to high quality care and services; and that the BC Review Board and court authorities across the province are supported by the expert advice and opinions provided by specialized, interdisciplinary teams of health professionals.

The Commission takes its authority from the Forensic Psychiatry Act, the Criminal Code of Canada and the BC Mental Health Act. In complying with BC Review Board decisions, the Commission works within its authority to ensure patients are supported in hospital and in the community. Forensic mental health teams also liaise with other authorities and community agencies to support patients and ensure public safety. 

In December 2001, the FPSC became part of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). PHSA is responsible for managing the quality, coordination, accessibility and cost of selected province-wide health care programs and services.

FPSC is fully accredited and has received the highest accreditation standing from Accreditation Canada: Accredited with Exemplary Standing.

The British Columbia Review Board is an independent tribunal established under the Criminal Code of Canada. The mandate of the BC Review Board is to protect public safety while safeguarding the rights and freedoms of mentally disordered persons who have committed criminal offences. 

The BC Review Board has ongoing jurisdiction to hold hearings and to review dispositions (orders) where persons have been found by the Court to be Not Criminally Responsible by Reason of Mental Disorder (NCRMD) or Unfit to Stand Trial by reason of mental disorder.

For Families

We welcome and encourage the involvement of family in the care and treatment of our patients and clients at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital and Regional Forensic Clinics. 

Our Patient and Family Handbook provides an excellent overview of forensic psychiatric services. 

We work collaboratively with patients and families to provide care that is respectful and compassionate, and culturally safe and competent. We are responsive to their needs and values, cultural backgrounds, beliefs and preferences. 

Families are often the first to know when their loved ones are distressed or experiencing emotional difficulties. Family members are encouraged to communicate any concerns they may have about their relative to their relative’s treatment team to ensure optimal care and safety. If you have any questions or information to share please do not hesitate to contact the clinical team. 

Contact us

For Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, call 604-524-7700 and ask to speak with the Social Worker assigned to the patient. If the Social Worker is unavailable and/or it’s an emergency, ask to speak to the nurse in charge. We encourage you to visit your family member at the hospital. 

For a Forensic Regional Clinic, please contact reception at the relevant clinic and ask to speak with the client’s assigned Nurse or Social Worker. 

Availability of interpreters

All patients and families have the right to be provided information in a language they are able to understand. The Provincial Health Services Authority provides interpreting and language services to Forensic Psychiatric Services. If you would like an interpreter to be present when you meet with the treatment team, please advise your relative’s treatment team in advance of the meeting.

Safety & Security

FAQs about safety and security 

What is the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital?

The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital cares for the most complex, severely mentally ill patients in B.C. We are required by law to treat patients found not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial, and help them integrate safely and gradually back into their communities when and if possible. Our mandate to work toward community integration when possible comes from the B.C. Review Board, an independent tribunal under the Criminal Code of Canada.

How are patients considered for outings?

Before patients are considered for a community outing, a multidisciplinary treatment team thoroughly and carefully assesses the risk of such an outing as well as the patient's clinical well-being. The impact of the patient's presence in the community is also considered—we notify community and family members as appropriate. 

Then, on the day that the patient is scheduled to access the community, a nurse on the ward reviews the relevant information and assesses the patient to determine whether he or she is stable and suitable to visit the community.

What is the approval process for a patient to go on a leave?

All patients are reviewed annually by the B.C. Review Board for a decision about whether they should remain in hospital, and whether they may be eligible for community access.

It's important to note that the Review Board's decision relates only to eligibility for community access—not to whether a patient will actually be granted day leaves. Community visits take place at the discretion of the Director-in-Charge of the hospital, and only after a careful safety assessment. 

Many patients who are eligible for community access do not receive day passes for reasons including their illness, readiness for community access, and public safety.

There are six “levels” for patients at the hospital, ranging from no access to the hospital grounds to supervised and unsupervised access to different parts of the hospital, to supervised and finally unsupervised access to the community. 

Accessing the community always begins with closely supervised assessment outings and progresses gradually to unescorted day leaves. Each level has aseparate application and review process. Not all patients progress through all levels for safety reasons. 

Who escorts patients into the community?

Depending on the patient, several staff may escort him or her on a community visit. This is decided on an individual basis.

Are the staff armed? Do they have special training?

Our escorting staff are mental-health professionals who are trained to manage patients who may become disruptive. They are not enforcement officers and therefore do not carry weapons.

How do you keep the public safe?

Public safety is paramount when determining whether a patient may access the community. Staff are trained to manage patients who may become disruptive, and make effort to ensure public safety is maintained.

How is monitoring done when a patient is in the community?

The level of monitoring depends on the patient. Some patients are escorted by staff. Very low-risk patients may receive day leaves to attend community-based programs on their own, and mechanisms are in place to verify their attendance. They must return at a predetermined time.

What is the purpose of the community access?

We are mandated by the B.C. Review Board to integrate patients into the community safely and gradually when possible. This needs to happen in a graduated matter. 

Community access is part of this process, providing patients with opportunities to apply the self-management skills they learn during their treatment and experiment with coping outside the hospital. It also provides staff and physicians an opportunity to further assess patients for treatment.

It's important to note that community outings are not a "treat" or "time off for good behaviour." They are an important part of patients' mandated treatment processes.

What is the hospital’s policy for alerting the public when there is an unauthorized absence?

If a patient fails to return on time from an authorized leave, even if it is only 15 minutes late, the RCMP are notified, as part of the hospital’s “Code Yellow” policy.

Staff provide information to the RCMP to assist with determining the level of risk. Alerting the public of the absence, and when the patient has returned, is the responsibility of the police.

What are you doing to prevent unauthorized absences? 

We have robust safety and security protocols in place at the hospital to ensure patient, staff and public safety.

If a patient does not return at the expected time, or absconds while on a staff-escorted outing, we take immediate measures to address the situation.

In the event of an unauthorized absence, all community access privileges are suspended pending a review and re-application to the assessment committee. 

We have made a number of improvements in recent years, and as a result, fewer day leaves are granted and the number of UAs has decreased significantly. Out of nearly 1,300 visit and day leaves in 2018/2019, 99.7 percent of patients returned as scheduled. Those who did not returned in short order.

What have you done to increase safety for staff?

A number of improvements designed to improve safety for everyone at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital are in progress. Read more here.

Can I obtain reports about serious incidents at the hospital?

As with any serious incident, there is a critical incident review, which is a quality-driven standard procedure to review whether our services and procedures adhered to policy, and to identify any areas for improvement. Medical, quality-assurance, clinical and security staff are involved in these reviews. 

These reviews as well as the findings of other internal and external reviews are protected under Section 51 of the British Columbia Evidence Act. The purpose of S. 51 and its related confidentiality provisions is to facilitate open and frank discussion among doctors, nurses, support staff, administrators and others to aid quality improvement in the hospital setting.

What are you doing to reassure the community?

We appreciate the community’s interest in the hospital, we have met with various community groups, and we are listening. We are mindful of public safety as a top priority when making decisions about community access.

Tab Heading
SOURCE: Forensic Psychiatric Services ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2019 Provincial Health Services Authority.