MENTAL HEALTH

Published: 24/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5947 Page 6

Laws allowing dangerous people with severe personality disorder to be locked up should be passed separately from mental health reforms, the government has been told.

The Commons pre-legislative scrutiny committee set up to examine the draft mental health bill says the proposals need 'radical' changes.

In its report, published yesterday, the committee says proposals on the treatment of people who are suffering from dangerous and severe personality disorder should be separated from attempts to reform the 1983 Mental Health Act.

It says the current draft places too much emphasis on protecting the public from a small number of dangerous mentally ill people and puts too many people at risk of being treated under compulsion. It also says the proposals must not become law until the government has worked out how changes will be paid for.

The committee was frustrated by the fact that the government has not yet worked out the funding implications of the new tribunal system and has requested further evidence on the number of advocates required.

Royal College of Psychiatrists vice-president Dr Tony Zigmund said he hoped the government would take the recommendations 'very seriously'.

'To have the whole of the mental health bill skewed in order to pick out a few people who are deemed to be dangerous is wrong.' A Mental Health Alliance spokesman agreed: 'There should be criminal justice legislation for criminal justice issues and health legislation for health issues.'

www. parliament. co. uk See Feedback, page 20.