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Monitor 'mental' matter closely

I am not aware under what authority that public servant at the Ministry of Gender Affairs was removed from her place of employment and detained in a mental institution.

In the UK there is the Mental Health Act 1984 and in particular there is the Emergency Detention under section 24 of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 which is used where admission is urgently required and use of Section 18 would introduce undesirable delay.

• Section 24 (Emergency admission): Where an individual may be brought to a hospital and required to stay for 72 hours

• Section 25 (Emergency detention): Where an individual may be detained for 72 hours if already in hospital on a voluntary basis.

• Section 26 (Short-term detention): If an individual has been detained under section 24 or section 25 a consultant psychiatrist can then detain him for up to 28 days.

• Section 18 (Full detention): An individual's detention can be continued if he is already in hospital or a person can be brought to hospital and detained for a period of six months which is renewable after six months and then annually.

• Power of Entry (Section 117): This might need to be used where a patient with possible mental disorder refuses assessment and help.

The patient may be behaving eccentrically, living in very poor conditions, suffering ill-treatment or neglect or alone and unable to care for himself. This warrant is obtained by an MHO from a JP. It allows the police, in a doctor's presence, to force entry.

The person may then be removed with a view to assessment for admission under Section 24.

The Minister's entry into the picture is of particular significance because mental health laws have been used across the world by paranoid officials to detain people who expose abuse of government power. Someone needs to keep watch on this case.

Jim Jhinkoo

Couva

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