detainees have mental health problems that should be considered, urge
by Angela Hussain
held under UK anti-terrorism laws have serious mental health problems
that should be considered in the development of new legislation,
warned the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
college has issued a statement after the House of Lords ruled last
month that current legislation under which detainees are held (the
2001 Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act) was unlawful because
indefinite detention without trial was incompatible with the Human
Rights Act 1998.
reviewing psychiatrists' reports on the detainees currently held
under the 2001 anti-terrorism act, the college suggested there was
evidence that detainees, as a group, had serious mental health problems.
circumstances of their detention were considered to contribute significantly
to their mental health problems.
statement warned: "Despite limitations to available evidence,
our best estimate is that indeterminate detention, lack of normal
due legal process, and the resultant sense of powerlessness, is
likely to cause significant deterioration to detainees' mental health."
college considered that these aspects of detainees' circumstances,
rather than the lack of access to mental health services, were responsible
for their mental health problems.
was satisfied that the access detainees had to mental health services
in prison was similar to that of other prisoners.
treatment, however sophisticated it may be, cannot neutralise the
deleterious impact on mental health of the particular nature of
this group's detention, the statement suggested.
are therefore particularly concerned that the home secretary should
not suggest that provision of psychiatric treatment from high quality
mental health services can in itself prevent a decline in detainees'
mental health that may come about as a result of their detention,"
the college said.
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by the Royal College of Psychiatrists on the psychiatric problems
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