John Crichton


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Personal profile


John Crichton grew up in a farming family in West Lothian.  Early influences included the shadow cast by his uncle's suicide, his father's traumatic memories of war and developing insulin dependent diabetes at secondary school.  Perhaps an early indicator of future interests was selecting Mason and McCall Smith's  Law and Medical Ethics  as a school prize.

An interest in Psychiatry and the law developed at Nottingham Universoty Medical School where John completed an intercalated psychology degree and won the elective prize for a study for mental health research at the Muhimbili Medical Centre, Tanzania.

As a junior psychiatrist in Cambridge John was struck by the moral decisions made about those patient's who were perceived to have a damaged personality and presented with challenging behaviour.  To research this further, he was awarding the Nightingale research studentship at Trinity Hall and Institute of Criminology, Universty of Cambridge.

During his doctoral research he developed an interest in homicide prevention and published hs first book in 1995: Psychiatric Patient Violence: Risk and Response. He has gone on to publish over 60 peer review publications and numerous book chapters.  He also developed interest in teaching - firstly to small groups of medical students and sociology undergraduates.  

After being awarded his PhD in criminology John was appointed Clinical Lecturer at University of Cambridge and developed expertese in incapacity law - giving expert evidence in the Bournewood case which was to be pivotal in the development of UK mental health law.

In 1998 he returned to Edinburgh as Clinical Lecturer in Forensic Psychiatry where he won the prestigious Lettsom and McHarg prizes for research.  In 2000 he was first awarded Honorary fellow status at the School of Law and has been contributing to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching ever since.  He devised and is the principle contributer to the Mental Disorder and Crime module which over the last decade has been completed by over 200 Masters students and has supervised and examined Criminology and Psychiatry PhDs.

From 2000 he has been a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist employed by the NHS in Edinburgh,  He has given expert evidence in a number of high profile cases.  He is acknowledged as a clinical leader and has served in senior management and senior medical education roles.  In 2017 he was elected Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland.  As the leader of Scottish psychairty he is a key opinion former and is in close contact with Government Ministers and senior civil servants.  he is a keen advocate of violence reduction and promotes the use of safer designs of kitchen knives in domestic settings at particuar risk of violence.

In 2015 Dr Crichton became an advisor to the International Committee of the Red Cross where he promotes the mental health of prisoners.  He has developed international ties through the ICRC and had had particularly close links with the management of detainees in China.

John is married to Anne-Marie, a G.P in Bo'ness,  The couple have three daughters - the eldest in her third year of medicine at Queen's University Belfast.  Outside work, John is a keen advocate for those with diabetes and has campaigned for wider provision of insulin pumps and flash glucose monitoring systems.  John also supports Veteran's mental health and researched the Lothian and Border Horse in World War 2 - his father's regiment.  He also designed an extension to his house with a bespoke Mondrian inspired bookcase which won several awards in 2012





Education/Academic qualification

Criminology, Doctor in Philosophy, Controlling Psychiatric Inpatients: the response of staff to inpatient misdemeanour, University of Cambridge

1 Jan 199331 Dec 1996

Award Date: 12 Jul 2007

Psychotherapy, Postgraduate Diploma, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Award Date: 20 Dec 2006

Medicine , Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, University of Nottingham

1 Oct 198515 Aug 1990

Award Date: 15 Aug 2000

Psychology, Bachelor of Biomedical science, Stress in those working with dementia, University of Nottingham

Award Date: 12 Aug 1988

External positions

Vice-President, Royal College of Psychiatrists

25 Jun 201724 Jun 2021

Chair, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland

25 Jun 201724 Jun 2021

Honorary Consultant, International Committee of the Red Cross

1 Aug 20157 Sept 2021

National Forensic Training Programme Director , NES, NHS Education for Scotland

1 Sept 20097 Sept 2021

Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, NHS Lothian

1 Nov 20007 Sept 2021


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