Safety comes first
WHEN it comes to the issue of mental illness, society has made huge progress in recent years. Taboos have been shattered and we now publicly discuss something that, until recently, was considered best kept quiet.
This is as it should be. Mental illness can have the most devastating impact on those affected and those closest to them and our greater understanding of it can only be a good thing.
But we have grave concerns about a plan to release mentally ill criminals into the community, where they would be monitored with electronic tags.
One consultant who has worked with offenders whose crimes have been judged to be the result of mental illness warns that the release of some of those detained in psychiatric units could be ‘catastrophic’.
The Scottish Conservatives’ spokesman on mental health, Annie Wells, argues that there may be a case for the use of tagging in some cases.
She may be right. She is certainly right when she states that public safety must be the number one concern.
There are already concerns that the policy of early release from mainstream prisons is influenced by the need to save money.
It would be intolerable if mentally ill offenders were freed in order to cut costs rather than because it was the right – and safe – thing to do.