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MP seeks mental health inquiry: Violent crimes blamed on low community care funding, reports Rosie Waterhouse

THE Liberal Democrats have urged the Department of Health to hold an inquiry into the care of mentally ill people in the community, following a series of suicides and violent crimes by former psychiatric patients.

Elizabeth Lynne, the party's spokeswoman on community care, has tabled a House of Commons motion which notes 'the apparent rise in crimes of violence and the increase in suicides' and claims that the cause is the Government's failure to provide adequate funds to back up its policy of caring for mentally ill people in the community rather than hospital.

The move comes in the wake of violent incidents involving seriously mentally ill patients, such as the killing by Christopher Clunis of a random victim on a London railway station platform and the apparent suicide on Monday of a retired vet from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, who is thought to have first killed his wife with a hatchet.

After Monday's incident was reported, Ms Lynne said: 'This case and others . . . clearly show that community care is failing the very people it is meant to serve. Lack of funds means that many in need are falling through the net.' After the Trowbridge deaths of Dennis and Mary-Lou Archer, their son John blamed the medical care his father received after he became mentally ill and was treated as an out-patient at Roundway psychiatric hospital in Devizes.

Roger Pedley, general manager of the hospital, confirmed that Mr Archer had been diagnosed as clinically depressed and said: 'The police are still investigating . . . but we are confident the clinical staff acted with necessary haste and the care that was offered was appropriate.'