Local MP Steve Reed’s private members’ bill, known as Seni’s Law, which aims to end the use of excessive force against mental health patients, has passed its second Parliamentary reading.
The bill is dubbed ‘Seni’s Law’ after the case of Seni Lewis, 23, (pictured) from Thornton Heath who died in 2010 after being restrained by 11 police officers at Bethlem Royal Hospital in East London.
The bill will now go to the committee stage in the House of Commons, where each of its parts may be debated and ammended. Mr Reed expects the meeting to happen within the next four months.
He said afterwards: “People in the gallery were elated when the bill passed this key stage, and so were Seni’s family.
“A point they have made to me repeatedly is that they didn’t want Seni’s death to be in vain – that out of the tragedy of his death, a glimmer of hope could be offered to other families.”
Around 63,000 people have now signed the petition calling for Seni’s Law, which also has the backing of more than 25 mental health charities and campaigners.
A gross misconduct hearing recently held behind closed doors by the Metropolitan Police concluded that none of the six officers breached standards of professional behaviour in relation to the death.
However, a coroner’s inquest into the death raised a number of questions in relation to the use of restraint on people in mental health crises by police officers.
Mr Lewis, an IT graduate, had no history of violence or mental illness but had been taken to the hospital by his mother Ajibola after a period of mental illness.
If passed Seni’s Law, will open up mental health services to greater transparency with data showing how institutions and regions compare against each other over their use of restraint, and exposing the extent of bias against particular groups.
Police will be required to wear body cameras when carrying out restraint. Mental health care providers will have to put in place policies on reducing the use of restraint. It will also speed up an independent investigation when someone dies after being restrained.
*Picture shows: MP Steve Reed outside Thornton Heath Mosque where hundreds of signatures were added to the petition.
*Picture shows: Lewis family delighted as Semi’s Law passes through second reading in House of Commons with unanimous support across the House.
You can find out more about the new law and email your MP at www.senis-law.com