"Gender differences in psychopathology and the treatment of patients has been discussed for the past 20 years from medical, historical and anthropological perspectives" (Bartlett and Hassell, 2001:302). The focus of this research is in relation to female offenders. “A small but significant part of the female offending population comprises those offender/patients detained in the high security and other psychiatric hospitals under the Mental Health Act 1983” (NACRO, 2002: 13). The views of staff with experience of working in secure settings were explored using qualitative research methods. Three individual semi-structured interviews were undertaken with staff from different occupations. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using content analysis (Bryman, 2004). This research contributes to the debate surrounding the necessity of gender specific secure services for women. Six major themes were identified and discussed in relation to previous research findings. The findings highlighted the importance of ensuring that services meet the needs of women, especially in the provision of secure psychiatric services. This involved women having the option of a female only environment and receiving gender specific therapy. The research also identified a number of problems with mixed sex wards, supporting previous research (e.g. Cleary and Warren, 1998).
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