Rise in detentions fuels new law fears

The number of people detained in England last year under the Mental Health Act 1983 increased by 1,000, according to government figures.

Detentions rose by 2 per cent to 46,700 in 2004-5, following a slight fall in the previous year.

Jane Harris, senior campaigns officer at Rethink, said the rise was worrying because the government’s plans to extend compulsory community treatment in its amendments to the 1983 act could increase the figure even further.

She said detention had increased steadily since the act was introduced and called on the government to include a principle in the amended legislation stating that compulsion should always be a last resort.

The number of place of safety orders where people were taken by the police to a hospital for assessment increased by 14 per cent to 5,100. The researchers suggested this reflected greater use of hospitals by the police and better recording.

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