NI Ministers launch consultation on Mental Capacity Bill

Health Minister Edwin Poots and Justice Minister David Ford have launched a consultation on a draft Mental Capacity Bill and proposals relating to those in the Criminal Justice system in Northern Ireland.

The draft Mental Capacity Bill will introduce a single, statutory framework governing all situations where a decision needs to be made in relation to the care, treatment (for a physical or mental illness) or personal welfare, of a person aged 16 or over, who lacks capacity to make the decision for themselves.

The consultation document includes the draft provisions of the Bill relating to civil society, and sets out the proposed approach for those subject to the Criminal Justice system.

Health Minister, Edwin Poots (pictured), said: “I am delighted that the core provisions of the draft Bill are now being published for consultation and I want to thank the many people and organisations for their significant contributions to date. This new framework is intended to deliver the Bamford vision of reducing the stigma associated with having a separate mental health law. It will for the first time anywhere, fuse together mental health and mental capacity law into a single piece of legislation.

“It will ensure that where a person has the mental capacity to make a specific decision about their care or treatment or personal welfare, they are allowed and supported to do so; and it will strengthen protections for those vulnerable people in our society who lack capacity to make these decisions for themselves.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform this important area of law. I would urge everyone to become involved and contribute ideas and views through this consultation process so that we can enhance protections for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

The Minister for Justice, David Ford, said: “This consultation sets out our proposed approach to implementing one of the key recommendations of the Bamford Review – applying mental capacity principles to the Criminal Justice system. Our goal is to ensure that those who are subject to the Criminal Justice system have access to treatment and care that is equivalent to that available to other members of our society.

“Our proposals retain our vital focus on public protection whilst ensuring that an individual’s capacity to make decisions about their health, care and personal welfare is respected. Appropriate safeguards are also included to ensure that an individual’s best interests are respected where their capacity is comprised.

“During the development of these proposals, both Departments have had significant support from community, voluntary and statutory sector organisations. I would like to thank all of those who have contributed thus far and look forward to further positive engagement during the consultation process.”

The Consultation will run from Tuesday 27 May until Tuesday 2 September.