People detained for mental health problems need legislation that protects them better, the Law Society of England and Wales said in its evidence to the independent review of the Mental Health Act 1983, announced by Theresa May in her most recent party conference speech.

‘As the law stands today, someone detained under the Mental Health Act – or “sectioned” – may be treated without their consent for the first three months of their detention without any safeguards. This must stop,’ said Law Society vice president Christina Blacklaws.

‘We also think detention periods should be shorter – six months under section 3 is far too long and may compound the distress of people who are already suffering.’

The Law Society evidence makes a number of other recommendations about the Mental Health Act provisions as well as mental health treatment and services, including prohibiting treating anyone without their consent in the first three months of their detention – unless authorised by a second opinion appointed doctor.