How the Welsh Government could use the powers it already has
So the UK Government’s plans to reform the Mental Health Act plod on: a Mental Health Bill is promised but not yet diarised – but it was in the Queen’s Speech so it should be introduced in this Parliament.
Meanwhile there is no promise or evident prospect of legislation in Wales on this. If that continues all we may see is Wales keeping pace with reform in England by catching a ride on their Bill but not looking to improve on it or tailoring law to our particular needs.
Meanwhile I note the Welsh Government’s eagerness to get more powers from Westminster, in particular over justice matters – you can see their ideas here.
Now this sounds interesting. It would be good to see Wales having a go at sorting out the scandal of sending people with a serious mental illness to prison (if they are actually dangerous they should be detained in hospital). And it would make sense more generally to link up criminal justice with already devolved areas such as health.
But I’d like to make a suggestion to Welsh Government. If you want to take more powers then demonstrate that you are proactive with the powers which you already have rather than leaving matters to Westminster.
Yes, I’m talking about a Mental Health Bill for Wales! And if you need some ideas take a look at Jo’s Law…
Jo Roberts is a mental health campaigner who was on the receiving end of the Mental Health Act for over 30 years. In the past she has received compulsory treatment; some of that treatment was deeply unpleasant and even terrifying. Jo is campaigning for a progressive Mental Health Act fit for the 21st Century – an Act that gives patients and carers in Wales and beyond a fairer deal.