Letter: Innocent locked up

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I am dismayed by the Government's proposal to detain indefinitely and without any form of trial those whom it regards as being "a danger to the community". I have worked with people suffering from mental illness for over 25 years, and I find it difficult to accept that anyone is untreatable.

What is more worrying is the tendency of the health services and community to see anyone who acts in an unconventional manner as a risk. Is it really right that a person who has committed no offence should be detained only on the basis of perceived behavioural traits? We should remember how in the Soviet Union dissidents who were perceived as a danger to society were removed to psychiatric units and retained there indefinitely.

Whatever the safeguards the present government may set up, it is not difficult to imagine the future use of the system as a means of detaining and then ignoring those who are seen as in some way "different" or dissident.

MAVIS IREDALE

Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire

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