Prisoners better protected than mentally ill

Patients in psychiatric hospitals need to be given the same ‘right to life’ as prisoners, civil liberties group Liberty said today.

Liberty have intervened in a Law Lords appeal and called for patients to receive better protection after paranoid schizophrenia sufferer Carol Savage committed suicide after escaping from hospital.

Carol Savage’s daughter, Anne, was critical of the current system, saying: “There is no justification for a greater level of protection for prisoners than the mentally ill.

“Whether the state locks people up in prison or in hospital, it must take responsibility for avoidable deaths.”

Under the current system laws – determined by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – the state is responsible for preventable deaths in prisons but not in hospitals.

Liberty argues that those detained under the Mental Health Act are just as vulnerable as prisoners and the state should be accountable for them.

There were 1,731 cases of self inflicted death between 1997 and 2005 among patients in psychiatric hospitals – more than double the number of suicides in prisons.