'Draconian' plan to detain mental patients is revived

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A bill that would have forced mental patients to undergo treatment and allowed the detention of people with "dangerous" personality disorders will be reintroduced within weeks after talks to find a compromise with mental health campaigners.

A bill that would have forced mental patients to undergo treatment and allowed the detention of people with "dangerous" personality disorders will be reintroduced within weeks after talks to find a compromise with mental health campaigners.

The Independent has learnt that the Mental Health Bill will be introduced in draft form before the summer recess of Parliament at the end of July. The Health Secretary John Reid is planning to introduce the Bill in time for the Queen's Speech in November. Rosie Winterton, a Health minister, has privately told mental health charities that the Government will keep its promise to reintroduce the measure.

The Independent led the campaign against the most controversial parts of the Bill, which was shelved after encountering a wave of opposition from mental health groups. It was published in 2002 in response to the cases of Michael Stone and Christopher Clunis, who both carried out killings after being released following treatment for mental illness. The Mental Health Alliance, an umbrella group for charities including Mind and Sane, protested that the Bill was draconian. Officials at the Department of Health have sought a compromise by narrowing the groups of patients who will be subject to compulsory treatment when they are released into the community.

"We are not talking about giving men the power to kick down doors and inject people," said an official. "All we are doing is talking about making sure they take their treatment so that we don't have a revolving door, with patients leaving hospital only to have to come back in for treatment." Ministers have told campaigners they are prepared to continue with discussions about the details.

The provision to detain those suffering dangerous personality disorders has not been removed from the Bill, but officials said it only affected about 1 per cent of cases.

Richard Brook, chief executive of Mind, said: "It is vitally important that the Government gets this Bill right."

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