Personality Disorders

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th April 1999.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Clive Soley Mr Clive Soley Chair, Parliamentary Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:00 am, 26th April 1999

What responses he has had to his proposal for containment of people with personality disorders who are considered to be dangerous. [80951]

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Let me first acknowledge my hon. Friend's long experience and great expertise in this area. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and I are very grateful for his thoughtful letter of 19 November last and the subsequent discussions, and we are giving his ideas careful consideration. We expect to publish a detailed consultation paper on this issue shortly.

Photo of Mr Clive Soley Mr Clive Soley Chair, Parliamentary Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I am grateful for that reply. I urge my colleagues at the Home Office to do all that they can to persuade the various professional bodies to pay very careful attention to the proposal. When we do not provide proper security for the very few people who are considered dangerous, we fail them as well as the public. I know of cases when people asked to be locked up before they killed someone, yet one had no power and no authority to intervene. Perhaps we should look on this as a protection order, because it is protection not only for the public but, ultimately, for some of those people with personality disorders.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am grateful again to my hon. Friend. The Government are determined to put in place new arrangements that will both safeguard the public by ensuring that the relatively few individuals who represent an extreme risk can be contained indefinitely, if necessary, and ensure that those individuals have their treatment needs fully met. It is a difficult thing to achieve and obviously such arrangements have not been satisfactorily resolved in the past. However, we are well aware that this is something that needs tackling. Following the review, we will ensure that the necessary arrangements are put in place.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Conservative, Vale of York

I wonder whether the Minister could share with the House the level of evidence that will be required before such a person could be contained. It is alleged that Jill Dando was stalked by a fan for a substantial period. It is clear that someone should be contained only if he or she has a personality disorder, but if it appears that crimes, including murder, could have been prevented, the House should know of exactly the level of evidence that will be required before the person concerned can be contained.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said earlier, while we share everything that has been said about what happened to Jill Dando, it would at this early stage be inappropriate to comment on what may or may not have happened and on who may or may not have been involved. We are looking towards the sort of evidence that should come from a multidisciplinary team, including clinical psychologists, so that all the factors relating to the individual and the risks involved can be properly assessed to make sure that the necessary arrangements are in place to ensure that the safety of the public is put very high on the agenda. I think that the hon. Lady will agree that that is the most important contribution that we can make towards this serious problem.