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According to the Commission for Racial Equality’s guidelines for public authorities, a race equality impact assessment is a way of systematically and thoroughly assessing, and consulting on, the effects that a proposed policy is likely to have on people, depending on their racial group. The main purpose of a race equality impact assessment (REIA) is to pre-empt the possibility that a proposed policy could affect some racial groups unfavourably.
The Government published Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care - an Action Plan for Reform Inside and Outside Services on 11 January 2005. One of the paper’s recommendations was to set up an REIA to scrutinise the proposed changes to mental health legislation.
The need for thorough assessment of the likely impact of any new mental health legislation on race equality is compelling: research data consistently shows that there is a disproportionate number of patients from black and minority ethnic groups subject to compulsory treatment under the current Mental Health Act. The latest figures from the Healthcare Commission’s census show that Black groups were up to 44 per cent more likely than average to be detained under the 1983 Mental Health Act.
Update - The Government has said that it will conduct a Race Equality Impact Assesssment on its proposed amendments to the 1983 Mental Health Act. It will also take into account the submissions to the REIA consultation on the 2004 Draft Bill. The current legislation was not scrutinised for this purpose before it was introduced, 23 years ago. The consultation in 2005 asked specifically for responses to the Draft Bill, not the current Act.
The Alliance believes that there should be an assessment of the impact on black and ethnic minority groups of the entirety of the 1983 Act, including the proposed amendments to it. The results of the Race Equality Impact Assessment should be published alongside the Bill when it is introduced into Parliament.Read the DH statement on conducting a REIA...
In 2006, the Government conducted a Race Equality Impact Assessment consultation on the proposed changes to the Mental Health Act.
The questionnaire and guidance notes are still available on the Department of Health website.
There was a previous Government consultation on race equality in 2005.
Download the report of the MHAC focus group
Download the write-up of the REIA workshop
The Alliance submitted a response to the consultation.