To assess whether there is a subgroup of persons with mental disorders who engage in criminal harassment and to determine whether substance abuse is a cofactor in this behaviour.
A cross-sectional casenote study was used to examine incidents of harassment by patients prior to admission to acute and forensic wards (n = 106) at a provincial psychiatric hospital.
Of 106 patients, 8 (7.5%) were found to have engaged in behaviour defined as criminal harassment prior to admission. Only 1 was charged under Section 264 of the Criminal Code. Alcohol was a cofactor in only 1 case.
The number of persons with a mental disorder who engage in criminal harassment prior to admission is relatively small. The behaviour is not usually identified at any stage of the admission as criminal harassment. Although substance-abuse problems were prevalent, substance use was not a concomitant risk factor for behaviour defined as criminal harassment.