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Mental health: Mum urges MPs to support bill for body cams

PICTURED: Olaseni Lewis (Image: Justice for Seni)

THE MOTHER of a man who died after he was on the receiving end of excessive and prolonged restraint by police officers has urged MPs to stopped a mental health bill from being blocked.

Aji Lewis has deemed Tory MP Philip Davies’ behaviour as “cruel” and “unnecessary” after he spoke for two hours in the commons at the time the bill, which calls on police entering mental health facilities to wear body cameras, was scheduled to be read.

“I thought it was cruel. I thought it was unnecessary,” Lewis said. “It was just to inflict pain for their own ends. They are using us to do what they wanted to do. It wasn’t a very good aspect of democracy, totally unfair and unnecessary, and very difficult to hear, to hear him talk about how my son was killed. He had all the wrong facts.”

Davies, who has a reputation for obstructing private members’ bills, has said he backs the main thrust of the bill in principle.

The final chance for the reading of the mental health units (use of force) bill to completed is Friday. If any MP talks it out and prevents it from concluding its reading, the bill will not go through.

Lewis’ son Olaseni, also known as Seni, was 21 years old when he died following a period of excessive and prolonged restraint by a group of police officers.

He had entered the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham voluntarily in 2010 after an unforeseen and uncharacteristic mental health episode.

His family accompanied him to the hospital and left at 8.30pm. Soon after, Olaseni reportedly became distressed and police officers called to the scene restrained him. The officers laid Olaseni face down and he died of a heart attack a few days later.

Lewis has urged people to contact their MPs to prevent the bill from being blocked.

She said she “wanted people to get their MPs into the House of Commons in enough numbers so rogue MPs won’t be able to run out of time”.

Labour MP Steve Reed, the MP for the Lewis’ constituency, is promoting the bill.

He said: “This bill is about making sure nobody else suffers and dies the way Seni Lewis died, that people with mental health are treated with compassion,” he said. “We can’t allow any rogue MP to block these reforms that have unanimous support across the mental health sector.”

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