The Home Office is putting £70m behind a threeyear programme of pilot projects for treating people with dangerous severe personality disorder.

Further money will come from the NHS when the government publishes a white paper in response to Managing Dangerous People with Severe Personality Disorder, which was issued for consultation in July last year.

However, Rampton Hospital has been chosen as the first NHS pilot site, with the project going ahead in its 'beacon status' 40-bed personality disordered service.

The consultation document, which drew fierce criticism from mental health campaigners and prison groups, put forward two options that would allow people to be locked up indefinitely if they were deemed dangerous.

One was to hold DSPD individuals in a new type of facility outside the prison and health service, the other was to strengthen existing legislation so that people convicted of a crime could be given indefinite sentences and those who had not could be held in secure hospital facilities.

Home Office minister Paul Boateng said the pilot projects would aim to develop assessment tools and effective treatment and 'inform the government's proposals for managing and treating those who are dangerous and severely personality disordered'.

Mind head of policy development Margaret Pedler said: 'We have always had doubts, which we have expressed to the government, about the possibility of getting a risk assessment sufficiently robust to form the basis of their proposals.

'We hope with pilot projects lasting three years the government will not rush into changes with the law until the changes have been properly evaluated. '

Director of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health Dr Matt Muijen said he was concerned about the use of the high-security Rampton Hospital. He also called for more clarity about the projects and the thinking behind them.

'Are we talking about a pilot for these people who, without due legal process, potentially are going to be detained. Or are we talking about a new kind of service to people who would have been committed to Rampton anyway?'

The Department of Health said the pilot project would be a 'much more robust form' of identifying people with the problem.