On 5 March Gazette reporter Jonathan Rayner wrote a deeply personal and disturbing account of his son’s experiences of the criminal justice and mental health services.
Those experiences are not, unfortunately, exceptional.
What Jonathan’s account graphically demonstrates is that there remains a great deal to be done – socially, medically and, also, legally – before the complex needs of those in his son’s position are promptly identified and then swiftly and effectively addressed.
The Mental Health and Disability Committee of the Law Society is made up of solicitors (and some non-lawyers) from a variety of disciplines, the focus of whose work is with or for disabled people, including those who suffer from mental ill-health.
The aim of the committee is to promote improvements in law, practice and procedure for these marginalised groups and to support those in the legal profession who work in these ‘social’ areas of law.
The committee, like all those seeking improvements in the system, is working to find ways of making the creaking system function more effectively.
There is clearly a need for focused lobbying for improvements from the legal profession. In the light of the missed opportunities for reform under the Mental Health Act 2007, and the unfolding fiasco of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, perhaps the need is now greater than ever. All suggestions for further action will be carefully considered.
Julie Burton, Julie Burton Law, Bangor Member, Law Society Mental Health and Disability Committee