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Bill for compulsory detention

15th November 2006

05102006_mentalhealthward1.jpgPeople could soon be detained without committing a crime, under controversial new laws for people with untreatable personality disorders.

The 2002 draft Mental Health Bill was finally axed in March after years of opposition on the grounds its proposals represented an abuse of civil liberties.

But now a number of key proposals look set to be revived in an amended bill. This includes allowing people to face compulsory treatment even if their condition could not be treated. Patients would have been able to be held for 28 days before facing a tribunal.

One of the main criticisms of the previous proposed legislation was that it made it too easy to detain people with some warning even those with mild conditions may be locked up. Under the 1983 Mental Health Act patients can be sectioned, but only if their condition is treatable.

The move came following assumptions that Michael Stone's brutal murders of Lin and Megan Russell would have been prevented if Stone, considered to have an untreatable condition, had been held under mental health powers. An inquiry later ruled he had been treated, but there had been gaps in his care.

The plan to amend the act is likely to include allowing compulsory therapy if appropriate treatment is available.

A raft of mental health campaign groups have pledged to fight the bill.


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