Put more focus on youth, Faculty tells mental health law review

01 Jun


MENTAL health legislation needs to be updated to take more account of children and young persons, the Faculty has suggested.

In a Response to a review of mental health law in Scotland, the Faculty also drew attention to a disparity in provision for men and women who require treatment in high security accommodation.

The independent review, chaired by John Scott, QC, asked if there were any groups of people whose needs were not well served by the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.

The Faculty said that since the passing of the Act, considerable increases had occurred in demand for child and adolescent mental health services.

“The Scottish Government’s mental health strategy is seeking to address the issue by increasing the scope of resources and services, but the Faculty notes that in the 333 Sections of the Act, only two expressly address children and young persons with a mental disorder, with the result that the Act itself is extensively process-driven and weighted towards adult patients,” the Response added.

“The Faculty considers it important that the Scottish Government, which is committed to implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in domestic law, pays close attention to incorporating provisions more closely tailored to the needs of children and young people, and allows care and treatment to be provided in a properly responsive manner.”

The Faculty said there was a small group of women who had no option allowing them to be held in high security accommodation in Scotland, even though it was acknowledged to be unsatisfactory when patients were detained or treated at considerable distances from their families.

It referred to the case of Theresa Riggi, who had been sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment for the culpable homicide of her three children in Edinburgh, and who died in Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire in 2014.

The Faculty observed that that had been the subject of recent adverse comment by the UN Rapporteur on Prevention of Torture, but had yet to be addressed fully by any of the statutory bodies – including the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland – despite the evident disparity in treatment provided for similar male offenders

“The Faculty considers that such disparity on the grounds of sex is incompatible with a human rights culture.”