Agenda would like to thanks its supporters and campaigners after the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, which aims to reduce the use of restraint in mental health settings, passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons.
The Private Member’s Bill, brought forward by Steve Reed MP, was passed by MPs last Friday and will now be scrutinised in the House of Lords.
The impact of restraint
Thousands of women and girls are regularly and repeatedly physically restrained in mental health units every year. Restraint can be frightening and humiliating and also risks retraumatising women and girls who have experienced violence and abuse.
It is also dangerous – research released by Agenda last week showed that 32 women died following restraint between 2012 and 2017.
Agenda’s campaigners helped raise awareness of the issue and wrote to their MPs in support of the bill.
What’s in the Bill
The Bill, also known as ‘Seni’s Law’, is named after Steve Reed’s constituent Olaseni Lewis, who died after 11 police officers restrained him in 2010.
It contains measures to:
- Improve training, including on the impact of trauma on a patient’s mental health, and on de-escalation techniques, so practitioners can manage a difficult situation without having to resort to the use of restraint.
- Improve data collection, so we can identify groups which are facing particularly high rates of restraint.
- Increase accountability: every hospital will have a policy on reducing force, and a named senior manager accountable for its implementation.
- Ensure every non-natural death will automatically trigger a fully independent investigation, and the deceased person’s family will be given legal aid. Government will publish an annual report summarising the inquest findings.
- Ensure police officers in mental health hospitals wear body cameras.
Seni’s Law, BBC London 94.9, 6th July 2018 (at 2h08)
32 women die following restraint, Mental Health Today, 3rd July 2018
Female deaths after restraint, Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Two, 3rd July 2018 (at 1h41)
Katharine Sacks-Jones on restraint deaths, Radio 4 Today, 3rd July 2018 (at 49m)
Find out about our Women in Mind mental health campaign