Mental health Bill is to be delayed

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Campaigners for better treatment for people suffering from mental illness, including The Independent on Sunday, will be able to claim a victory this week.

Campaigners for better treatment for people suffering from mental illness, including The Independent on Sunday, will be able to claim a victory this week.

The long-awaited Mental Health Bill will be one of eight "draft" Bills that will have to wait until after the next general election before they are enacted. This will allow more time to devise a compromise between ministers who want the public protected from potentially violent patients, and those who fear that the mentally ill could be turned into the only people who can be punished for crimes they have not yet committed.

The Bill contains a measure first proposed by Jack Straw five years ago, when he was home secretary, after the former psychiatric patient Michael Stone was convicted of murdering Lin and Megan Russell. In its original form, in October 2002, the Bill proposed that psychopaths labelled untreatable should be detained indefinitely, even if they had committed no crime.

The Mental Health Alliance, whose members include the Law Society and Mind, condemned the move and this newspaper has opposed it in a two-year campaign.

A new draft of the Bill has offered extra protection for the mentally ill.

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