General principles of forensic report writing


  • Stephen H. Allnutt,

  • David Chaplow

  • Corrections Health, PO Box 150, Matraville, New South Wales 2036, Australia. Email:

  • David Chaplow, Director, Mason Clinic, and Clinical Reader

  • The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Stephen H.Allnutt Clinical Director, Long Bay Hospital (Correspondence)


Objective: The aim of this paper is to provide an update of principles of forensic report writing, to guide and assist registrars, junior consultants and psychiatrists considering working within the forensic arena.

Method: The literature was reviewed for information on principles of report writing from a variety of jurisdictions. Additionally, literature on medical ethics was examined.

Result: Writing reports is a professional activity that most psychiatrists undertake at some point in their careers. The report represents the psychiatrist’s professional opinion. It is important that information is accurate, relevant and ethical. In writing medico-legal reports, psychiatry deviates from traditional medical ethics.

Conclusion: It is important that psychiatrists who write reports have a good understanding of the process and behave ethically and competently.