Request for Members of Parliament to form a Committee to discuss the Criminalisation of Mental Health Patients
Read Open Letter to Meg Hillier MP (pdf) and Take Action - suggestions below
We hope this letter will prompt a debate around this practice, which occurs in some psychiatric hospitals. We are calling for a thorough investigation into the circumstances whereby a mental health patient can be prosecuted while they are in the care of the NHS. Whether as a detained patient (as Joe was) or an informal one, we believe that Joe (and many others) are owed an operational duty by the psychiatric hospital to be protected; many patients do not feel safe in psychiatric wards, many become distressed. We believe that all are deserving of compassionate care in an environment where they feel both safe and secure. Joe was not protected, he was not kept safe: he was allowed dangerous, prohibited items which he subsequently used in his efforts to escape from the ward.
1. Write to your Member of Parliament drawing their attention to this letter and asking them to support the call for a Committee of MPs to discuss the Criminalisation of Mental Health Patients.
2. Write to the Mental Health and Criminal Justice organisations copied in to the letter, expressing your support and urging them to actively promote this campaign.
3. Write/Contact other organisations and groups .. let them know about the Campaign and the Open Letter
3. Write direct to the Prime Minister, saying it is about time that this issue is tackled.
You may want to include the following points:
As a society we have a duty to protect the most vulnerable especially when they are in the care of the State: mental health patients should feel safe and cared for in a therapeutic setting which safeguards the physical safety of all patients and staff. The criminalisation of mental health patients is an abomination in the 21st century.
People, of all ages, with mental health difficulties already suffer stigma and discrimination and are more likely to be at risk of both verbal and physical attack. The practice of criminalising patients in psychiatric hospitals brings another stigma, that of a criminal conviction; further, prison can never be a therapeutic environment and can only exacerbate the distress of someone who is suffering mental health problems.
Please email Justice for Joe E: email@example.com with any replies you receive, or post to the Campaign address:
Justice for Joe
c/o 16 Foulden Road
London N16 7UR
Please contact the email address firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about Joe's case. You can email his mother, Linda Morgan, directly at this address. Please be patient as you may not get a response immediately as we have limited resources.
Become a supporter of the campaign: contact the email address to be sent updates on the campaign and the appeal process.
Contact postal address for the campaign is: Justice for Joe, c/o 16 Foulden Road, London N16 7UR, U.K.
Consider becoming an active supporter of the Justice for Joe campaign: See below for suggestions.
Support for Joe
You can send Joe a card or letter to support him and wish him good luck with the appeal while he is in hospital:
Joe Paraskeva, Broadgate Ward, John Howard Centre, 12 Kenworthy Road, Hackney, London E9 5TD
New letter/postcard campaign to highlight the Human Rights aspect of Joe's case.
Although the Appeal against Joe's sentence (IPP) will be heard in July and this is a major step forward, the grounds of appeal do not include any appeal against his conviction for arson.
Once the Appeal process is over, Joe will still have a conviction for arson, which will blight his whole future.
So we now want to raise awareness of the human rights aspect of Joe's case: that as a mental health patient he should not have been criminalised.
See link below for a sample letter which can be downloaded and sent as an attachment with an email or printed and sent as a letter.
Remember if you send a letter by email or send any correspondence to an MP or member of the House of Lords, to include your name and full postal address (a requirement, we understand).
You may also want to add other comments, see below for examples of questions you may want to raise.
Please send any replies to Linda at email@example.com or to the campaign address:
Justice for Joe c/o 16, Foulden Road, London N16 7UR, UK.
Please continue to write letters to your MP, to Government ministers and others in the House of Lords who you may think could be interested in the campaign. Joe's MP, Diane Abbott, has been very supportive since Joe was remanded in custody and is aware of the campaign. I am forwarding replies that get sent to me to Diane Abbott. Either email or post me any correspondence you have, please. Ms Abbott can then take up issues on our behalf. Postal address:
Justice for Joe, c/o 16 Foulden Road, London, N16 7UR
See below for names with links to email addresses of members of the House of Lords Human Rights Joint Committee and European Union Committee.
1. You can request updated pre-printed postcards to send to the Prime Minister -
Send your name, address and quantity required either by email or from Justice For Joe c/o 16 Foulden Road, London, N16 7UR
2. Pre-printed postcards can also be sent to the House of Lords Human Rights Joint Committee and European Union Committee.
Please order as above and fill in the individuals name and sign before posting. (List of names will also be sent to you with postcards)
Send letters, postcards or as an email attachment to:
Human Rights Joint Committee
Remit: Reviews human rights, implications of bills and considers human rights issues in the UK.
Baroness Campbell of Surbiton
Lord Lester of Herne Hill
Lord Morris of Handsworth
European Union Committee
Remit: Considers matters relating to the E.U.(European Union).
Lord Carter of Coles - House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW
Lord Dykes - House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
Lord Hannay of Chiswick - House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW
Baroness Howarth of Breckland
Lord Maclennan of Rogart
Lord Tomlinson - House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW
Baroness Young of Hornsey
Name,Title of Comittee, House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW
If you would rather not send a sample letter, here are examples of questions you may want to raise
Why was this young man transferred from an NHS psychiatric ward where he was detained under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983, into a Young Offenders Institution when he tried to escape from the ward?
Why is the NHS unable to provide proper care, supervision and treatment for mental health patients who it has detained under a Section of the Mental Health Act?
Why was Joe not restrained and transferred to a more secure psychiatric ward unit when he tried to escape from the ward?
Why was he allowed to have a cigarette lighter and an aerosol in his room after he had wanted to leave the hospital and was sectioned to be detained under the Mental Health Act?
How many patients in psychiatric wards in the UK set fires in the hospital where they have been detained and what is the NHS policy for dealing with them?
How can someone be sectioned and detained under the Mental Health Act and then be viewed as having so sign of mental illness when they try and escape from a psychiatric ward less than 48 hours later?
Why is there no adequate 'joining up' of the child/adolescent and the adult mental health services? (See Guardian article on press page)
How many people in Joe's position, a mental health patient sectioned on a psychiatric ward, are then given an Indefinite term of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) if they try to escape from the hospital?
Joe cannot be given the same care and treatment for his mental health needs in prison as he would have in a hospital, surely the NHS and the judicial system have denied him the right to fair and equal treatment.
Letter Writing Campaign to the Media.
Information about impending press coverage of the campaign will be sent out via email updates and published articles and reports will be posted on the website as soon as possible. Please write letters in support of the campaign to the media as soon as an article is printed.
The Guardian article in June 2011, generated huge support. Articles are expected to be printed in the national press 5th and/or 6th September as well as continuing reports/articles in the local paper, the Hackney Gazette which is supportive of the campaign. Please contact the email address if you want to be included in the updates about the campaign which will also give information about media coverage.
Fundraising for the Campaign
We have set up a bank account to fundraise for the Campaign, all donations will go toward appeal costs and publicity/admin costs. All supporters of the campaign work voluntarily and unpaid.
If you would like to donate something to the campaign, please either use the link to donate on the Home Page, or make a cheque payable to:
Justice for Joe and send it to the campaign address. A receipt will be sent if requested.