The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 received Royal Assent on 1 November 2018. Regulations are awaited which will determine when the legislation comes into force.

Nicknamed ‘Seni’s law’, the Act is the culmination of many years’ campaigning following the death of Seni Lewis who died aged 23 after being restrained on a mental health unit by 11 police officers.

The Act extends to physical, mechanical or chemical restraint and so includes the use of sedating medication.

The requirements of the Act are that:

  • Mental health units need to have a responsible person for the purpose of this legislation
  • Units must have a policy on the use of force
  • The responsible person must publish information about rights of patients in respect of the use of force, and provide that information to patients on admission
  • Training must be provided to staff working on the unit in respect of the use of force. The Act is prescriptive about what that training should cover. This includes issues such as respect for diversity and the physical, mental and developmental impact of the use of force
  • Specific recording provisions about the use of force are detailed and statistics will be published by the Secretary of State
  • Police officers should wear body cameras when attending mental health units