The impact of Canadian Criminal Code changes on remands and assessments of fitness to stand trial and criminal responsibility in British Columbia

Can J Psychiatry. 1997 Jun;42(5):509-14. doi: 10.1177/070674379704200508.


Objective: To evaluate the impact in British Columbia of the 1992 Criminal Code of Canada amendments dealing with remands for fitness to stand trial and not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD) assessments.

Method: Information on 620 remands for evaluation of fitness to stand trial and/or NCRMD were collected from a sample obtained in British Columbia from 1992 to 1994. The data collected included length of remand order, length of evaluation, criminal charges, psychiatric diagnoses, and the decisions about fitness or NCRMD.

Results: Remands increased by about 20% in a 1993-1994 fiscal year compared with the previous year. The majority of evaluations continue to be conducted in an inpatient facility. The goal of a 5-day evaluation period is rarely met: only 12.5% of inpatients were released within 5 days of admission, and the average length of evaluation was about 3 weeks. The use and success of the NCRMD defence appears to be on the rise. In addition, there were some striking differences in remands from metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas in terms of rates of referral and recommendations of unfitness or NCRMD.

Conclusion: Results indicated that Bill C-30 has not yet had the anticipated impact on remands as inpatient evaluations continue to be the norm and evaluations typically take several weeks. Suggestions for policy reform and future research are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • British Columbia
  • Crime / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Expert Testimony / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insanity Defense*
  • Male
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Mental Disorders / classification
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Psychotic Disorders / classification
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Social Responsibility*