Warning over 'psychiatric Asbos'

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The community treatment orders (CTOs) the government is trying to introduce as part of its mental health bill will condemn vulnerable people to a "bleak future", a charity has warned.

As MPs vote on the bill as it gets its second reading in the House of Commons, Mind says that the controversial orders – dubbed 'psychiatric Asbos' – will only succeed in frightening mental health patients.

If passed, the CTOs would require patients to remain in their own home at designated times, as well as inflicting limits upon their lifestyles, Mind claims.

The charity says that if people are so ill that they need to be given curfews and forced treatment, they should be in hospital.

"Ministers would like us to believe that community treatment orders mean people with mental health problems will be getting extra attention and support. But they won't," said Mind's policy director Sophie Corlett.

"This legislation is dangerous," she continued, "the result of it will be that people with mental health problems won't get the help they need.

"The government are ploughing ahead in spite of all the evidence. Psychiatrists oppose the government proposals, nurses oppose them, mental health organisations oppose them, and, crucially, patients oppose them.

"We're asking MPs to consider the advice of the experts and oppose them too."

Yesterday the Independent on Sunday also attacked the UK's "outdated" mental healthcare system, citing the case of 16-year-old patient Jack Owen, who was assaulted, verbally abused and locked up in a windowless cell on an adult psychiatric ward.

In January the health minister Rosie Winterton defended the mental health bill in the Lords. "We have made it very clear in the bill that appropriate treatment has to be available for detention to take place," she said.

Changes to the mental health laws were first made by the government in 1998 following Michael Stone's conviction for the murders of Lin and Megan Russell, after he was deemed a dangerous but untreatable psychopath.

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