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Friday 28th October 2016

Mental Health Bill under fire

16th April 2007

Patricia Hewitt is standing by her recently published mental health bill despite fierce criticism from various opponents.


The government’s Mental Health Bill enables authorities to hold a person deemed dangerous to themselves or others against their will even if they have not committed a crime. While Ms Hewitt claims the legislation strikes the ‘right balance’ between patient care and the safety of the public, the Tories have called the new measures punitive. Mental health charities have also lashed out against the proposals saying they will stop many dangerously ill patients coming forward for help.

The new Mental Health Bill is the result of increasing pressure on the government to do more to stop violently ill mental health patients killing innocent members of the public. Since the murders of Lin and Megan Russell by psychopath Michael Stone there have been calls for tighter controls over patients who are deemed to be a danger to the public. Stone had been diagnosed as a dangerous psychopath but, because his condition was untreatable, doctors had no powers to detain him and he was therefore being cared for in the community when he struck. The government has been trying to enforce changes to the mental health laws since 1998 but has previously faced opposition in the House of Lords.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Hewitt defended the bill saying, "Modern medicine and clinical practice has shifted the whole focus of care into the community and the law needs to follow.?

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