The 'root and branch' review of the 1983 Mental Health Act has reported to junior health minister John Hutton on proposals for compulsory treatment.
One HSJ source described the findings as 'a dog's breakfast'.
'The language is very libertarian but in terms of action is about how to lock people up, ' he said.
The report from the committee chaired by Genevra Richardson, dean of the faculty of law at Queen Mary and Westfield College, will not be published until later this year.
But sources said that under the proposals, 'community treatment orders' are likely to mean treatment in a hospital setting.
Centre for Mental Health Services Development director Edward Peck said the close association of the psychiatric profession with the police was a particular concern which could 'create particular difficulties for black groups'.
The government has announced an extra 221 secure places in medium secure units - more than twice the number planned.