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New Twist To The Mental Health Law

by Medindia Content Team on March 24, 2006 at 12:38 PM
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New Twist To The Mental Health Law

The UK government had attempted to introduce a new mental health law after Michael Stone was convicted for the brutal murders of Lin and her daughter Megan Russell in 1998.

Although Stone was revealed to be a dangerous psychopath, he could not be detained under the existing Mental Health Act because his condition was considered to be untreatable. So the central aim of the proposed new bill was to redefine 'treatable conditions' under the law so that those with dangerous personality disorders could be detained.

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But the proposed new bill came in under fire from mental health organizations and other civil right campaigners as they claimed that the government was trying to forcibly detain and treat mentally ill patients.

After eight years, inclusion of numerous clauses to prevent violation of Human Rights and millions of pounds, the government scrapped the proposals for the long-awaited mental health law and instead proposed to amend the existing one. The proposed inclusion of personality disorders under the definition of 'treatable' still remains.
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UK government's mental health authority Professor Louis Appleby argues that 'appropriate treatment should be made available' to such patients and if necessary should be detained to receive it so that they do not pose a threat to the community nor themselves.

The bill became contradictory when ministers wanted to increase the possibilities of convicting and detaining people with personality disorders while at the same time requiring new rules to prevent violation of Human Rights Act 1998.

When proposals were made to merge these two ideas, the bill foundered because everyone held could appeal to a tribunal within 28 days. This accompanied by a definite increase in the number of people held would require a vast bureaucracy to just process the appeals itself.

With campaigners insisting that there should be a proper system of appeal in place to safeguard people's rights and with increasing objections from politicians and mental health organizations, ministers decided not to support the legislation.

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