Criminalising The Mentally Ill : Is It Right?

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, deficiencies still exist in the law particularly with regards to criminalising of mental health patients who in a large number of cases end up under the criminal justice system despite being innocent. Because the route to health care is via the police in may cases as a place of safety, patients are likely to have their DNA taken and subsequently added to the police data base.

Campaigners have for a long time, expressed concern at the worrying trend that often leads to people with mental health problems, being criminalise and having their DNA kept in the system by the police, even when they have been cleared of wrong doing.

This thorny issue has contributed a great deal to the stereotypes about mental health patients from ethnic minority groups being described as “mad, bad and dangerous”. Black Mental Health UK recently released figures which show that 50% of people from the Afro-Caribbean community are more likely to be referred to mental health services by the police than their Caucasian counterparts.

Organisations such as Gene Watch UK and Big Brother Watch present a strong case for legislative changes that will put a stop to the covert criminalisation vulnerable people. Changes in the law along with adequate resources for care in the community will help mental health patients access disability and mental health services, in way that will prevent them from finding themselves in a revolving door situation – in and out of the criminal justice system.

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