13 January 2000
Dear Dr Double,
Thank you for your enquiry. I did not hear the broadcast, but Mr Hutton would have been referring to estimates in our report, Safer Services, published in May. We made a number of assumptions about the kind of patients who would be treated under a community treatment order (severe mental illness, previous detention under the Act, non-compliance or non-attendance prior to suicide/homicide) and calculated the number of cases in our sample who had these characteristics. The point we were making was that, although on balance we accepted the need for a community treatment order, the proportion of suicides and homicides that would be prevented was small. Of course, it would be easy to disagree with our criteria for the use of such an order, but we felt it was important to make some sort of estimate on the number of cases.
I shall send you a copy of Safer Services. The relevant parts are key findings numbers 18 and 76 (pages 4 and 9) and the section on the Mental Health Act on page 91. Our report is also on the Department of Health web site.
Professor Louis Appleby