Helping vulnerable patients in the criminal justice system: Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicine

The Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicine (FFLM or Faculty) of the Royal College of Physicians in London is a professional body which provides training and sets standards and qualifications for doctors working in the criminal justice system with vulnerable patients such as prisoners, sexual assault victims, asylum seekers and abused children.

In 2015, Sandy McLean PR began working with the Faculty to build PR and public affairs capability from the ground up and provide strategy, planning and ongoing execution for a PR/public policy programme. Media relations, content creation, and issues management have delivered massive increases in engagement with key journalists, regulators and allies.


Police detainees (prisoners) are the biggest group of patients seen by forensic physicians, nurses and paramedics. This patient population has an over-representation of mental health issues, drug and alcohol misuse, acute drug and alcohol intoxication, and alcohol and drug withdrawal, and they require specialist care.

The Faculty’s work is not easily or widely understood, even by government entities charged with oversight and regulation of the criminal justice system.


Sandy McLean PR designed a communications programme to position the Faculty as the foremost expert resource on forensic and legal medicine. Key objectives were to secure the adoption and application of FFLM standards in all appropriate settings, help ensure justice in criminal proceedings, and secure the FFLM a place at the table with policymakers and elected representatives.

Infographic Forensic Physician

Media relations are a key component of the ongoing programme, and require building relationships with journalists throughout the UK covering specialist healthcare, criminal justice and government policy. Content creation for media and policymaker outreach includes infographics, Frequently Asked Questions, and a video explaining who the Faculty are and what they do. Sandy McLean PR also manages integrated FFLM social media, using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


Media interest in the FFLM increased soon after the launch of the PR and public affairs campaign in 2015, and has continued to grow. FFLM experts have been featured in publications such as Police Oracle, Nursing Times, Law Society Gazette and GP Pulse, as well as the BBC and other major UK media.

Faculty representatives have become sought-after contributors to public debate about a wide range of medical and human rights issues. One example: FFLM provided evidence and made recommendations in Dame Elish Agiolini’s review into serious incidents and deaths in custody in the UK.