Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill receives Royal Assent

On 1 November 2018, the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) 2017-19 Bill received Royal Assent to become the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018. The Act in broad terms aims to increase the accountability of mental health units (in both the public and private sector) using force on patients.

The 2018 Act makes provision about:

  • Accountability: improved oversight and management of the appropriate use of force in relation to people in mental health units. This includes having a policy on the use of force, information about the use of force and training. A “responsible person” must be appointed.
  • Reporting and statistics: recording the use of force - with every mental health unit required to report each year the use of force by staff. The Secretary of State also has to report on Preventing Future Death reports following inquests where deaths relate to the use of force.
  • Use of body cameras by police officers in the course of duties in relation to people in mental health units, which can be used in evidence.
  • Investigation of deaths or serious incidents in mental health units. 

You can read the Act here. It is short and sweet so an easy read. Guidance on the Act is expected to follow. Our earlier analysis of the Bill’s provisions can be read here.

The Bill was proposed by Steve Reed MP following the tragic death of Olaseni Lewis in a mental health unit. Olaseni had been subject to severe physical restraint by 11 police officers. Steve Reed wanted Parliament to pass what he called “Seni’s law’ to protect mental health patients. This new Act is clearly a key milestone in mental health policy.

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