Forensic Psychiatric Service

Forensic psychiatry is a specialist area with a particular interest in the legal aspects that may emerge in relation to mental disorders. This particularly involves forensic psychiatric assessments and the provision of court reports answering specific medico-legal questions across various areas of the law, as well as offender teratment aimed at victim protection and reduction of recidivism.

Our areas of competency and activity encompass teaching and training, research, and provision of medico-legal reports as well as provision of mandatory and voluntary therapies for offenders and individuals at risk of offending.


In the following you find a selection of topics to which our service provides expert opinion in the context of medico-legal reports prepared by our specialist psychiatric staff. Experienced in-house psychologists with forensic knowledge and skills can provide addtional expertise for specific clinical or diagnostic queries (personality diagnostics, assessment of intellectual ability).

Penal law / Criminal procedure law

  • Criminal responsibility
  • Criminal prognosis
  • Treatment recommendations / indication for specific treatment orders in accordance with the Swiss Criminal Code (StGB)
  • Fitness to be detained
  • Fitness to be interviewed by the police
  • Fitness to plead and stand trial

Civil law

  • Legal capacity
  • Ability to make a will
  • Protective measures for adults (e.g. guardianship order)

Social security law

  • Occupational disability

We will be pleased to be contact by telephone to discuss your requirements and give further advice.
Depending on the specific circumstances, our assessments may take place in conditions of remand custody, settings for sentenced prisoners or in our offices at the FPD.

The FPD provides the following clinical services for detainees within the prisons and penal institutions of the canton of Bern :

  • Outpatient treatment as per Art. 63 of the Swiss Criminal Code and therapies mandated by the penal enforcement agency at the penal institutions Hindelbank, Witzwil, Thorberg
  • Basic psychiatric clinical care and treatment at the penal institutions and the regional prisons Biel, Burgdorf and Thun
  • Inpatient therapies as per Art. 59, 60 and 61 of the Swiss Criminal Code in the specialist therapeutic measures departments of the penal institutions Hindelbank (female detainees) and Thorberg (male detainees)
  • Implementation of legally mandated treatment and therapeutic supervision in the community by the Forensic Outpatient Department

In addition, the Forensic Outpatient Department of the FPD provides treatment for released prisoners and community-dwelling individuals who are subject to treatment orders or directions issued by a court of law

Range of specific services

  • Disorder- and offence focused individual therapy
  • Group therapies
  • Pharmacotherapy, including antiandrogene treatment
  • General psychiatric treatment

Female offender programmes

  • Reasoning and Rehabilitation 2 For Girls and Young Women: A Prosocial Competence Training Program (Gailley, Y., Cooper, W., Ross, R. R., & Hilborn, J., 2008)
  • Helping Women Recover: A Program for Treating Addiction, Revised Edition (Covington, S. S., 2008)
  • Beyond Trauma: A Healing Journey for Women (Covington, S. S., 2003)
  • Schematherapy-group for female forensic patients, based upon: Beckley, K. A., & Gordon, N. S. (2010). (Use with kind permission oft the authors)

Male offender programmes

  • Reasoning and Rehabilitation 2: Short Version for Adults (Ross, R. R., Hilborn, J., & Liddle, P., 1984)
  • Anti-Sexual-Aggressiveness-Training: Das Anti-Sexuelle-Aggressivitäts-Training®-Suisse: ASAT®Suisse, 2nd editions (Falk, O., & Steffes-enn, R., 2014)

General programmes

  • Handbook PsychoEducation in Schizophrenia: Handbuch PsychoEdukation bei Schizophrenie, APES, 2. Auflage (Bäuml, J., Pitschel-Walz, G., Berger, H., Gunia, H., Heinz, A., & Juckel, G., 2010)
  • Relapse prevention  for drug dependency: Rückfallprophylaxe bei Drogenabhängigkeit: Ein Trainingsprogramm (Klos, H., & Görgen, W., 2009)


The therapies on offer are aimed at individuals

  • who have committed a violent, sexual or other offence and suffer from a mental disorder which is related to the offence
  • who are subject to a treatment order pursuant to Art. 63 or Art. 59 of the Criminal Codeor a « substitute measure » issued by the judiciary
  • who have been released from prison on parole and have received an order to continue their treatment on an outpatient basis in the community
  • who have been charged with an offence which appears to be related to a mental disorder and where legal procedings ar not concluded

Treatment team

The multi-professional team consists of medical specialists in psychiatry and psychotherapy, as well as psychologists.



The conditions for being considered for treatment by the Forensic Outpatient Clinic are:

  • a conviction for a violent offence, a sexual offence or another type of offence
  • the indication for outpatient treatment has been determined by the doctors / therapists of the outpatient clinic, as well as treatability in an outpatient setting
  • the willingness to be treated of the person, documented by the conclusion of a written treatment contract
  • in case of need the willingness to accept and participate in measures of control, such as control of blood levels of medication, drug screenings and alcohol testing
  • consent of the person to the perusal of the documents relating to the criminal conviction, the criminal record, previous psychiatric reports and previous medical records
  • waiving of the right for confidentiality in relation to all those who are involved in the implementation of the court order and the person’s process of reintegration

Exclusion criteria

Our outpatient service does not cater for:

  • individuals who suffer primarily from substance dependency
  • individuals who cannot be treated adequately in an outpatient setting because of their disorder or their social situation

Treatment goals

The aim of treatment is to prevent further offences. To this end, individual and group therapies are available. Additionally, networking of the relevant support and follow up structures (probation service, general practitioners, advice and support centers, housing facilities) takes place.

Administrative tasks

  • periodic reporting to the authorities
  • communication and networking with all agencies involved in the treatment ((instructing authority, e.g. penal enforcement agency, court of law, prosecution), probation service, residential home, where appropriate employer, social services, optionally legal guardian, etc.

Application procedure

  1. initial contact with the administration office of the outpatient clinic, three months prior to the presumed release into the community and consignement of all relevant documents
  2. following receipt of the documentation: review of the application by the admission team
  3. initial assessment of the patient
  4. gathering of further information
  5. communication of decision to the instrucing authority

Administration office, Department for Medico-Legal Assessments

B. Fischer / U. Linder

Telephone +41 31 631 32 30

Administration office, Department for Penal Enforcement

U. Bieri / K. Gilgen

Telephone +41 31 631 32 46

Administration office, Outpatient Clinic

R. Blum

Telephone +41 31 631 41 90

Administration office, Outpatient Clinic

R. Blum

Telephone +41 31 631 41 90