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Nov 03

I am backing Seni’s Law

I am backing my colleague Steve Reed’s bid in Parliament today to prevent deaths in custody and mental health units.Seni's Law graphic

Police and mental health staff work incredibly hard to provide quality services against the background of real financial pressures.

The best mental health units save lives and provide fantastic support to people recovering from a crisis. The professionals who work in them treat people with the dignity and respect they deserve.

But there can be no excuse for the use of inappropriate force that leads to the death of someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

Steve’s Private Member’s Bill, the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, would end of the use of inappropriate force against people using mental health services.

The Bill will create accountability and transparency in mental health services and tackle the unconscious bias that means too many members of our black community are treated differently.

Steve was motivated to present the Bill to Parliament by the death of his constituent Seni Lewis, who died after being restrained by 11 police officers.

‘Seni’s Law’ will ensure that whenever force is used in a mental health unit it is properly recorded. Every unit will have a policy in place on the use of restraint and have a named individual responsible for implementing it.

The Bill is also about supporting staff, who can have an incredibly difficult job to do. It would mean much more training for staff on using de-escalation techniques. Staff would be better supported in handling challenging behaviour and the appropriate use of force, as a last resort.

That is why I am backing the Bill, and I hope that the government will ensure that it has the time to pass into law.