RCPsych responds to media investigation into sexual incidents at NHS mental health trusts

Statement / comment
29 January 2024

An investigation by Sky News and The Independent has found nearly 20,000 complaints of sexual assault, abuse and harassment have been reported across 38 mental health trusts in England since 2019.

The figures suggest just under five per cent of incidents reported to hospitals were referred to the police during the same period.

Responding to the investigation, Dr Lade Smith CBE, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“There is no place for sexual violence in society, which has a profound and long-lasting negative impact on people’s lives. Today’s horrendous findings show that there is still much to do to make sure that patients and staff in mental health trusts are protected from sexual harms at all times.

“It is deeply troubling to see that so many incidents in mental health settings go unreported. Everyone who is a victim of sexual assault should be supported to come forward, regardless of whether they are a patient or member of staff and irrespective of who the perpetrator is.

“The College’s National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health developed vital standards on sexual safety for mental health trusts. These must be used to prevent sexual harms, and to provide vital support for victims during any police investigations or court proceedings."

For further information, please contact: