Use of powers to detain people under mental health increased by fifth

The enforcement of powers to detain people under mental health law increased by a fifth over ten years, new research claims.

The number of detentions for mental disorders in England per annum increased by 20% from 1996 to 2006, a study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) states.

Over the decade the number of detention orders increased by 20%, from 42,844 to 51,361.

This increase is despite a drop in the number of voluntary admissions and NHS psychiatric beds over the same period.

The BMJ study confirmed that private units are increasingly used to detain psychiatric patients. Figures released earlier this year showed a 24 per cent increase of compulsory detentions in independent hospitals between 2006 and 2007.

The BMJ study also reported that psychiatric admissions for people with alcohol and drug disorders rose by almost a third from 2003-6.

The BMJ study, published earlier this month, is entitled: A Retrospective Analysis of Hospital Episode Statistics: Involuntary Admissions under the Mental Health Act 1983 and the number of Psychiatric beds in England 1996-2006.

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