Dr Judy Laing provides expert advice on mental health and detention rights
Press release issued: 1 August 2017
Throughout July, Dr Judy Laing has been involved in high-profile sessions discussing detention rights of people living with mental health problems – particularly those held in prisons and psychiatric units.
On 13 July, Dr Laing organised and chaired an important session on mental health monitoring and international human rights standards at the International Association of Law and Mental Health Congress in Prague.
The session focused on how monitors can effectively implement international human rights standards in their monitoring work, with a particular focus on the obligations in United Nations Optional Protocol on the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The session included members of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Scottish Mental Welfare Commission and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority in Northern Ireland. Together these bodies make up the UK National Preventive Mechanism with responsibility for monitoring mental health detention across the UK (see https://www.nationalpreventivemechanism.org.uk).
The session promoted useful discussion and participants were drawn from an international audience, including a representative from the UN Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture as well as organisations tasked with responsibility for mental health monitoring in other jurisdictions.
Following this, Dr Laing participated in an expert meeting on the conclusions relating to a report on UK psychiatric institutions by the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture (CPT) at the University of Essex, as part of the Human Rights Centre's Detention, Rights and Social Justice Programme.
The CPT report, published in April 2017, highlighted several human rights concerns about the treatment of patients detained in psychiatric hospitals in England relating to the safeguards concerning forced treatment, the use of force on patients and the use of long-term segregation and night-time confinement in high secure hospitals.
The workshop explored issues relating to consent to treatment and the need for additional safeguards; expanding the remit of the Mental Health Tribunal; the use of force, particularly in forensic psychiatric hospitals; and long-term segregation and night-time confinement in high secure hospitals.
The meeting will lead to an outcome paper which sets out recommendations for implementation. The paper is likely to feed into the government's response to the CPT report, as well as inform the government's plans to review and reform mental health legislation in England and Wales.
Dr Laing is a member of the University of Bristol’s Human Rights Implementation Centre and co-director of the Centre for Health, Law and Society. She works closely with representatives of the UK National Preventive Mechanism advising on mental health monitoring and human rights issues and is an expert member of the CQC's Mental Health Act Advisory group, which provides advice to the CQC on the Mental Health Act and monitoring methodology.