Blunkett stands firm on mental health proposals

Home secretary David Blunkett has insisted the government should
not concede on its proposal to remove the concept of treatability
as set out in the draft mental health bill, writes
Katie Leason

Under the current mental health act, people suffering from a
mental disorder have to be expected to benefit from treatment in
order to be detained. But under the proposals suggested in the
draft bill, this would no longer be the case.

The proposal to remove the treatability concept has provoked
fierce criticism around fears that an individual with a personality
disorder could be detained indefinitely even if they had not
committed a crime.

Speaking at the Zito Trust conference, held earlier this week to
mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Jonathan Zito who was
killed by a man diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia,
Blunkett said that the government “cannot give way on the
central issue of treatability”.

He described it as “not acceptable” that the present
treatability test meant that “psychopaths” avoided
detention and stayed in the community if they were not expected to
benefit from treatment.

“Where people pose a threat to others and themselves there
must be treatment,” said Blunkett. “The debate
isn’t about mass compulsion. It’s about the balance
between public interest and individual interest”.

But Blunkett insisted that Alan Milburn and his colleagues were
“prepared to listen and respond” to the consultation
responses and reflect on “what might be necessary” to
reach a consensus.

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