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Out of mind

Section 3 of the Mental Health Act is our most authoritarian piece of legislation. Why is it used so much on black patients?

By Robert Drummond   December 2006

On a cold afternoon in south London, they gathered outside the crumbling façades of a Victorian terrace: two psychiatrists, a social worker and police in body armour. Then came the ambulance, followed by a locksmith. “Here we go,” said the social worker with a sigh. The group converged on number 71.

A policewoman rang the bell for flat two. No answer. She rang again. With a squeal of cracked paint, the window above them opened. A middle-aged black man with a ragged beard stuck his head out of the window, a spliff in one hand and a can of beer…

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