Blacks more likely to be detained in hospitals

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BRITISH-BORN blacks are nine times more likely to be detained in a mental hospital than whites, a conference on the law and the mentally ill was told yesterday.

And young black men are twice as likely to have received a jail sentence by the age of 21 as white men, according to Dr James MacKeith, consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Bethlem Royal Hospital.

Fifteen per cent of patients in special hospitals for the mentally ill are of Afro-Caribbean origin even though all ethnic minorities make up only 5.5 per cent of the British population.

In one region, half the in-patient population of medium-secure units comes from ethnic minority groups, Dr MacKeith told a conference in London held jointly by the Law Society, the Institute of Psychiatry and the Mental Health Act Commission.

'It was said that these figures resulted from incorrect diagnosis, but recent research suggests that is not the case,' he said.

'Black, mentally ill people are seen by white doctors and judges and their behaviour seems to be more worrying possibly because it is culturally different . . .'