BBC radio London to look at campaign to end criminalisation of innocent mental health service users

BBC radio London to look at campaign to end criminalisation of innocent mental health service users

Black Mental Health UK’s campaign to ensure that vulnerable mental health service users detained under the Mental Health Act do not have their DNA taken in the same way as suspected criminals will be discussed on BBC Radio London from 8.00 – 10.00pm, Sunday 15th October.

Hosted by presenter Dotun Adebyo this show can be heard live by tuning into BBC Radio London on 94.9FM or on digital radio and online.

Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK) will be one of the guests on the show. She will be discussing the changes that need to be included in Protection of Freedoms Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords, to end a practice which is criminalising innocent people who are in need of urgent mental health care.

In December last year BMH UK, BBW and Gene Watch UK wrote to Lord Henley, the minister responsible for the Protection of Freedoms Bill in the Lords, calling for changes to ensure that people who are taken into police custody under S 136 of the Mental Health Act do not have their DNA taken, in the same way as suspected criminals.

In an open letter to the Minister of State for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction, they set out the changes that need to be included in Protection of Freedoms Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords.

Police remain the first point of contact for a person in a mental health crisis in many parts of the country. Current practice means that both DNA and fingerprints can be taken from a mental health service user while they are in custody in the process of accessing mental health care.

BMH UK, BBW and Gene Watch UK have condemned what they say is the covert criminalisation of this vulnerable group.
Their letter to Lord Henley also calls for all innocent mental health service users currently profiled on this system have both their DNA and other police records permanently deleted.

They also want amendments to be made to this legislation, which ensure that those temporarily taken to a police station as a ‘place of safety’ under the Mental Health Act do not have their DNA taken while in custody.

‘BBC radio London’s focus on this issue will mean that more people will be aware of our campaign.
We would like to see changes in legislation to make sure that the DNA of innocent mental health service user is not taken while they are in custody, so they are not criminalised in the process of trying to access healthcare,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.

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Website: http://www.blackmentalhealth.org.uk
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