Fellowship backs right to secure beds

The National Schizophrenia Fellowship plans to appeal for a
judicial review of the right of offenders with mental illness to a
medium secure bed.

This follows the order made by a judge in West Sussex for Health
Secretary Virginia Bottomley to appear before a Crown Court to
explain the lack of a secure bed for a defendant.

A place was found before a civil servant representing Bottomley
appeared in court.

Mary Teasdale, manager of the fellowship’s national advice
service, said: ‘Judges have been trying to subpoena Bottomley [in
several cases] – and each time a bed is miraculously found.’

Kate Harrison, legal adviser to mental health group MIND, said
the judge was exercising ‘the power of political

Teasdale added that the fellowship continually heard of cases
where someone is diagnosed mentally ill but remains in prison for
want of a bed. It knows of one case where a person has been waiting
for 18 months.

It is seeking a suitable case on which to apply for judicial

Health service managers often say they have the money but cannot
find a bed, she added.

Bottomley issued a statement which put the onus on health
authorities to create extra provision.

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