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Detaining people with personality disorders

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 24 July 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:265
  1. Douglas Carnall (dcarnall{at}
  1. BMJ

    This week the Home Office and the Department of Health demonstrated their capacity for “joined up government” by proposing new powers to detain people with personality disorders who are a danger to the public. But it's not good news at its “What's new” page opens with a warning about congestion on its server, which the Government Information Service frankly admits is because of its own inadequate bandwidth. Given that its whole information strategy is based around indexing PDFs rather than supplying HTML, it's not surprising that the service has a few problems. This is apparently being addressed, but for the moment you will have to switch to the text only “no frames” view for a lighter download when you use the site, and spend the long minutes waiting for each page praying that the government's web minions are soon allowed to add another couple of quid a day to their phone bill.

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    From here, you can link to the Home Office's “What's new” page for details of the consultation paper Managing Dangerous People with Severe Personality Disorder (, and the Central Office for Information has the press release (, although its Flash graphics are a good example of gimmickry detracting from the usefulness of a site (“Catch our info! Crafting Outstanding Ideas! Confidently Organised Intelligence! Central Office for Information!”)

    Those who fear that psychiatrists—and, by implication, the whole of the medical profession—are already too deeply mired in penal affairs of the state may like to visit the Thomas S Szasz Cybercentre for Liberty and Responsibility for some intellectual underpinning ( The mental health charity Revolving Doors publishes some of the real life stories of the sort of people Jack Straw is talking about at its message is that appropriate support in the community would prevent many incarcerations, whether penal or psychiatric.

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