Mental Health Act 1983

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:57 pm on 11th July 2017.

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Photo of Paul Beresford Paul Beresford Conservative, Mole Valley 6:57 pm, 11th July 2017

I am delighted to see the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend Sarah Newton, in the Chamber. I hope—she is still smiling—that she is in a benevolent and co-operative mood.

As the Minister will be aware, I am raising a small but important matter, in my opinion and that of others, by seeking a small change to section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. She will probably have been made aware that I have raised the matter twice before, for the first time when I presented a ten-minute rule Bill in 2014. I did not proceed with that measure because there was an ongoing Government review of the whole section. Although that review was extensive, it did not consider the specific point that I am raising this evening. The second occasion was almost exactly a year ago, when I raised the matter in an Adjournment debate.

I was initially prompted to seek the change having seen the need for it at first hand on the streets of London. I was with a couple of young officers from the Met in a response car, and our first call was a dash to a flat on the 14th floor of a council residential tower block. The mother of the household nervously let the officers in, and we saw her daughter, aged 22, standing on the window ledge threatening to jump. We quickly established that the daughter had a history of genuine suicide attempts. As the young lady was clearly put out by the uniformed police officers, we were joined very promptly by three further officers, two of them in plain clothes. Fortunately, one of those officers was female.

That officer was very astute and persuasive, and managed to get the young woman to come down off the window sill, sit down on the bed and talk matters through. The young woman made it quite clear that she needed psychiatric help. Much effort was made to persuade her to go to a place of safety for psychiatric and medical aid. The young woman vehemently refused and, when pressed, she struggled to head for the window and jump yet again.

Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 9(3)).

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Rebecca Harris.)