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The Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986

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Correspondence of detained patientsN.I.

16.—(1) A postal packet addressed to any person by a patient detained in a hospital under this Part and delivered by him for dispatch may be withheld from[F1 the postal operator concerned]

(a)if that person has requested that communications addressed to him by the patient should be withheld; or

(b)subject to paragraph (3), if the patient is detained in special accommodation and the responsible[F2 authority] considers that the postal packet is likely—

(i)to cause distress to the person to whom it is addressed or to any other person (not being a person on the staff of the special accommodation); or

(ii)to cause danger to any person,

and any request for the purposes of sub-paragraph (a) shall be made by a notice in writing given to the responsible[F2 authority] or the responsible medical officer.

(2) Subject to paragraph (3), a postal packet addressed to a patient detained in special accommodation under this Part may be withheld from the patient if, in the opinion of the responsible[F2 authority], it is necessary to do so in the interests of the safety of the patient or for the protection of other persons.

(3) Paragraphs (1)(b) and (2) do not apply to any postal packet addressed by a patient to, or sent to a patient by or on behalf of—

(a)any Northern Ireland department or department of the government of the United Kingdom;

(b)any Minister of the Crown[F3, the Scottish Ministers], any member of either House of Parliament[F3, any member of the Scottish Parliament] or member of the Assembly;

(c)the Master (Care and Protection), any of the Lord Chief Justice's Visitors or any officer of the Office of Care and Protection;

(d)[F4RQIA]F5. . . or any person appointed by [F4RQIA] under Article 87(1)(b) or (c);

(e)the Review Tribunal;

[F2(f)any Board or [F6HSC trust] ;]

(g)the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration or the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints;

(h)any legally qualified person instructed by the patient to act as his legal adviser; or

(i)the European Commission on Human Rights or the European Court of Human Rights.

(4) The responsible[F2 authority] may open and inspect any postal packet for the purpose of determining whether it is one to which paragraph (1) or (2) applies and, if so, whether or not it should be withheld under that paragraph; and the power to withhold a postal packet under either of those paragraphs includes power to withhold anything contained in it.

(5) Where a postal packet or anything contained in it is withheld under paragraph (1) or (2) the responsible[F2 authority] shall record that fact in writing.

(6) Where a postal packet or anything contained in it is withheld under paragraph (1)(b) or (2) the responsible[F2 authority] shall within 7 days give notice of that fact to the patient and, in a case under paragraph (2) to the person (if known) by whom the postal packet was sent; and any such notice shall be in writing and shall contain a statement of the effect of Article 17.

(7) The Department may make regulations with respect to the exercise of the powers conferred by this Article.

(8) In this Article and in Article 17[F1 “postal packet” and “postal operator” have] the same meaning as in[F7the Postal Services Act 2011];F1. . .

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F1SI 2001/1149

F3SI 1999/1820

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