Forensic psychiatry is one of the newest clinical subspecialities in British psychiatry and most developments in staff training, recruitment and service provision occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. The (British) Mental Health Act, within which forensic psychiatry functions in England and Wales, was revised in 1959 (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1959) to set the scene for what was intended to be an enlightened approach to people designated as ‘mentally handicapped’ and ‘mentally ill’; it was further revised in 1983 by the current Mental Health Act (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1983). The key reports setting the style for services in forensic psychiatry are those by Butler (Home Office and Department of Health and Social Security, 1975) and Glancy (Department of Health and Social Security, 1974). There have been a number of other reports and circulars giving guidance on service provision and multiagency working. These reflect research in the area of prevalence of mental abnormality in prison populations, serious incident enquiries, e.g. suicide, homicide and prison inspections. A recent report, Review of Health and Social Services for Mentally Disordered Offenders and Others Requiring Similar Services (Department of Health and Home Office, 1992a), commonly called the ‘Reed Report’, makes a number of recommendations for the style and type of services, research, staff recruitment and training. Also, the ‘Reed Report’ made recommendations about the need to involve black people in the commissioning and provision of services.