Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018
Preamble: "An Act to make provision about the oversight and management of the appropriate use of force in relation to people in mental health units; to make provision about the use of body cameras by police officers in the course of duties in relation to people in mental health units; and for connected purposes." Royal assent: 1/11/18. The power to make regulations (s16) came into force when the Act was passed, and regulations will set out when the remainder comes into force.
39 Essex Chambers have kindly agreed for the following summary to be reproduced below. The remainder of the newsletter can be read here: 39 Essex Chambers, 'Mental Capacity Report' (Issue 90, November 2018).
Mental Health (Use of Force) Act
The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 which started life as a private members bill by Labour MP Steve Reed has been granted Royal Assent.
Widely referred to as “Seni’s Law” in reference to Olaseni “Seni” Lewis who died in 2010 having been restrained by 11 police officer at Bethlem Royal Hospital, the Act makes provision for the oversight and management of appropriate force in relation to people in mental health units and other similar units. It requires mental health units to appoint a responsible person who must publish a policy regarding the use of force by staff who work there (s.3(1)), which must include steps taken to reduce the use of force by staff in the unit (s.3(7)). The Act also provides that each responsible person must publish information for patients at a mental health unit about their rights in relation to the use of force by staff (s.4(1)). As a means of effecting greater scrutiny, the Act also provides that the responsible person must maintain a record of the use of force (s.6(1)) which must include, inter alia, records of the patient’s disabilities and mental disorder and whether they suffer from learning disabilities or autism; further, in circumstances where a police officer is going to a mental health unit on duty that involve assisting staff who work there, the police officer must take a body camera if reasonably practicable (s.12).We congratulate all those involved in taking this Bill through to enactment as a law – and trust that implementation will lead to real changes, as opposed to the mere completion of more paperwork.