On the night of 18/19 February 2006 SP killed Matthew Carter, a stranger. SP was convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and ordered to be detained in hospital.

At the time of the killing, SP was a patient of South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust. SP suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. SP was first referred to the trust by his GP in April 2004. He had two episodes of inpatient care at Springfield Hospital. His care and treatment in the community was provided by a specialist community mental health team known as the early intervention service (EIS) which cares for patients experiencing the early stages of psychotic illness.

In July 2008 an independent investigation into the care and treatment of SP was published. This made a number of recommendations in respect of:

• the EIS;

• the trust;

• inter-agencies (police and housing); and

• London Borough of Merton.

Since the death of Matthew Carter, the Mental Health Act 2007 has received royal assent and the amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 will mostly come into force in November 2008. There will then be provision, amongst other matters, for community treatment orders/supervised community treatment.

The investigation suggested that if the mental health services that treated SP had had an explicit power to compel him to comply with treatment, the course of events in his care and treatment might have been different and the death of Matthew Carter might have been avoided.

To see a full copy of the report, please click on the following link: http://www.verita.net/index.php?id=41