New law to prevent use of force in mental health settings coming into force on 31 March

We previously published a blog on the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 also known as Seni’s Law following the publication of final statutory guidance in December 2021. The Act aims to set out the measures that are needed to prevent the inappropriate use of force and ensure accountability and transparency about the use of force in mental health units.

The new provisions under the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 will come into force on Thursday 31 March 2022.

Amongst the new provisions detailed in the guidance is a new Section 12 which covers the requirement for police officers to wear and operate a body camera at all times when reasonably practicable and when attending a mental health unit to assist staff.

Healthcare professionals working in this field will be interested to read the Information Commissioner’s Office recently published new video surveillance guidance for organisations in the public and private sectors.

The guidance is an updated resource that addresses new applications of video surveillance technologies, including Body Worn Video with a detailed description of how the UK GDPR and DPA 2018 applies. You can read ICO’s guidance here and specifically the section that covers Body Worn Video here. It will therefore be important to ensure that the information given to patients about the use of body worn cameras by police officers is compliant with ICO guidance.

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