Mental Health Alliance comment on James Green

25 January 2007

Andy Bell, Chair of the Mental Health Alliance, today said:

"The family of James Green has expressed very serious concerns about his treatment in the mental health and criminal justice systems. These need to be addressed as a matter of priority.

"Here there is a clear misunderstanding of the current law - no mental disorder, including a psychopathic disorder, is classed as 'untreatable'. The current Mental Health Act makes specific provision for sectioning someone in this situation with any mental disorder in the interest of their safety. There is a problem over longer-term treatment where individual doctors, as in this case, decide that they have no treatment available that will benefit a person. But it is NOT a change in the law that will help James Green and other people with personality disorders, instead proper services are urgently needed.

"In the past, questions were asked as to whether personality disorders were 'treatable'. We now know that treatments are available. But there is a desperate lack of appropriate services for people with personality disorders and provision remains patchy.

"James Green has now been transferred from prison to a mental health hospital under the Mental Health Act. But James Green could have been sectioned under the current legislation as he posed a clear risk to himself, constantly self harming and attempting to take his own life.

"We need a balanced Mental Health Act like that in Scotland so that people who have committed no crime cannot be detained for mental health treatment unless they can get some benefit from it. To do otherwise is neither safe nor therapeutic."