Dáil Éireann - Volume 632 - 22 February, 2007
Written Answers. - Mental Health Policy.
Mr. Neville Mr. Neville
Mr. Neville asked the Tánaiste and Mini ster for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether legislation should be introduced to facilitate the process of diverting people with mental health problems from the criminal justice system and providing the Courts with a range of non-custodial options; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6764/07]
Mr. McDowell Mr. McDowell
Mr. McDowell: I am aware that under the auspices of the Department of Health and Children, the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy entitled “A Vision for Change” contains certain recommendations in this area. In March 2006, the Minister of State at that Department, Mr. Tim O’Malley, T.D., with special responsibility for mental health, established an Independent Monitoring Group to monitor and assess progress on the various recommendations made in that Report. The matter which is the subject of this question is one of two areas which have been identified by the Group as being of concern to my Department. It is currently being examined in that context.
I should mention that I took the opportunity to include a provision in section 4 of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act, 2006 (fitness to be tried) which is relevant to this matter. It provides for the diversion of persons, in certain circumstances, appearing before the courts on criminal charges who are suffering from a mental disorder as defined, away from prison to either a designated centre (i.e. a psychiatric centre) where they may receive any necessary in-patient care or treatment or, where appropriate, out-patient care or treatment. This applies in circumstances where the court determines that an accused person is unfit to be tried having heard evidence from an approved medical officer that the person is suffering from a mental disorder.
In addition, section 5 of the Act provides that, following a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, if the court is satisfied, having considered a report from an approved medical officer, that the person concerned is suffering from a mental disorder as defined and is in need of in-patient care or treatment, the court must commit the person to a specified designated centre.
Dáil Éireann 632 Written Answers. Mental Health Policy.