LEYTONSTONE: Charity criticises ASBO given to man with schizophrenia (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Mental health charity SANE has criticised an ASBO given to a man with schizophrenia taken to court by Waltham Forest police
A MENTAL health charity says an ASBO issued to a man with schizophrenia is “inappropriate”.
Francis McCann, 27, originally from Leytonstone but now living in a group care home in Palmers Green, was issued the ASBO last month.
He was accused of breaking into sheds and garages and stealing from skips and bins, then selling the items on the street, leading to a two-year ASBO banning him from entering the Leyton and Leytonstone area.
It is believed he may have been using the money he made from allegedly selling the items he stole to fund a drug habit.
Richard Colwill, a spokesman for mental health charity SANE, said: “Situations such as this should not be allowed to degenerate to the point where the police become involved and an inappropriate course of action is taken in the form of an ASBO.
“What a person with serious mental health problems requires is a full assessment by mental health professionals, resulting in a realistic and supportive care plan.
“For many mentally ill people the stigma and distress caused by an ASBO could make matters even worse.”
He added that in cases where someone is suffering from schizophrenia, paranoia caused by the illness could also be worsened by an ASBO.
Mr McCann's father, Terry, last week spoke out about his son's ASBO, saying he had been “vilified” because of his condition.
He is now living at St Alex, a care home in Palmers Green, where he receives care in the community and is free to leave, which enabled him to travel to Leytonstone.
There are no guidelines within the 2003 Anti-social Behaviour Act on issuing ASBOs to those suffering from mental illness.
ASBOwatch, which monitors the use of ASBOS, recorded a number of case studies of people with mental health problems being given the orders.
The case studies include a 12-year-old boy from Hull with Opposition Defiant Disorder, which causes him to be excessively hostile and disobedient, being given an order in June.
A spokeswoman for the police said: "Francis McCann was sentenced for the offence section 5 public order and this was when the ASBO was granted.
"Police were aware that Mr McCann suffered from mental illness and were in regular contact with his care workers prior to seeking an ASBO.
"They consulted with them to establish the most appropriate means to prevent his offending behaviour.
"He was accompanied by a mental health care worker at court.
"In order to issue an ASBO the court had to be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that such an order was necessary to protect the public from further anti-social acts committed by him."
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