A large number of constituents contacted me ahead of Friday November 3rd’s second reading of the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, which is also known as Seni’s Law.
I was extremely saddened to hear of the case of Olaseni Lewis, who died after being restrained by eleven officers at Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham in August 2010. Mr Lewis had voluntarily admitted himself to the unit.
If it passes into law, this bill (introduced by Steve Reed MP as a private members’ bill) will require hospitals to publish data on how and when physical force is used, and improve oversight and training to make staff aware of the risks of unconscious bias against minority groups, such as young black men. I fully support the bill and believe it would bring about much needed change and improvement in the way mentally ill patients are treated.
More widely, the Government has announced plans for an independent review of the mental health legislation under which people with severe mental illness can be detained for assessment and treatment. A final report containing detailed recommendations is expected by autumn 2018.
Though long overdue, I welcome the independent review of the Mental Health Act. The Government has confirmed it will consider issues including: looking at why rates of detention are increasing; examining the disproportionate number of those from certain ethnic backgrounds, in particular black people, who are detained under the act; and ensuring that those with ill mental health are treated fairly and protected from discrimination.
I was in the Commons for the debate and am very pleased to report that it passed its second reading and will now proceed to the committee stage. You can read the debate in full here.