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Mental health court legislation approved

Legislation formally establishing a mental health court was passed by MPs yesterday.

The Criminal Code Amendment Act provides the legislative framework for the mental health court that has been running as a pilot programme since October 2013.

Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, told the House of Assembly that the court had already proved “exceptionally successful”.

Mr Moniz said that no new funds were required at this time for the court's permanent establishment and that the move was part of a wider effort to reduce the number of individuals with mental health issues ending up in prison.

The amendment Bill was welcomed by Michael Scott, the shadow Attorney-General, on behalf of the Progressive Labour Party.

But he insisted on the need for establishing proper budgeting and funding of the programme to ensure it continues.

MPs from both sides of the House largely welcomed the amendment act and praised the work of those involved in the mental health court.

However, PLP MP Derrick Burgess raised concerns as to why the programme was only available to individuals who had committed a criminal offence and on condition they agreed to take part.

He added: “It does not go far enough. We are just wasting time right now and not addressing the issues we have. Let's get the whole package complete.”

OBA MP Shawn Crockwell insisted that more must be done to educate the public about mental illness.

“This is a good first step,” he said. “We have not done an adequate job in educating people on this topic. We still have people incarcerated who are mentally insane.”

Attorney-General Trevor Moniz

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Published June 24, 2016 at 1:44 pm (Updated June 25, 2016 at 1:40 am)

Mental health court legislation approved

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