In today’s Independent Newspaper, Helena Kennedy QC states “Detention without trial is an erosion of the rule of law that should never have been contemplated by the Government.” Not quite my dear, not quite. There is no erosion, it’s merely pedantries.
Right now, in hospitals and homes all over England and Wales there are people with mental health problems. The vast majority of these people are classed as ‘informal’ patients – what a member of staff will tell you this means is that the patient can leave any time they want. Yup, they can get up, say “Cheers for the tea and biccies” and head for the door. I said ‘head’ for the door – they’ll never get through it. Someone will use the law to prevent that person leaving – I know, I’ve used the law in question on someone myself. Mental Health law does not require trials by one’s peers. It does not require that the full panoply of the legal profession parade forth espousing on Human Rights. It just needs a couple of people to say they think you are mad (the terms ‘barking’ , ‘off his rocker’, ‘not the brightest button in the box’ and similar terms are equally interchangeable). There are people right now, people who are no threat to you or me, people who would not harm anyone else, people whose only ‘crime’ is to have their minds wired that bit differently locked up and staying locked up. A prison does not have to be 4 dank concrete walls and a door with a hatch in it does it ?
And the biggest reason that some of these people may well be prevented from leaving ? Because they present a danger to themselves. That means they might hurt themselves. They are locked away because they might cause themselves some sort of injury. And a suicide bomber will be doing what then ?
Oh my, that sounds like the Security forces can use the Mental Health laws then doesn’t it. After all, if I would be prevented from leaving a psychiatric ward because they suspected I would harm myself, isn’t it perfectly reasonable to place someone who is suspected of blowing himself (or herself) up to be equally detained ? If not, WHY ?? And if one guy can go free, why cannot the other ?