Wembley family joins campaign to stop ‘scandal’ of detaining autistic and vulnerable adults

Anmol and mum Rani Johar

Anmol and mum Rani Johar - Credit: Archant

A family from Wembley has joined a campaign to end the “national scandal” of detaining people with autism and learning disabilities under the Mental Health Act.

Anmol Johar

Anmol Johar - Credit: Archant

Inder and Rani Johar want "autism" and "learning disabilities" removed from the definition of what constitutes a "mental disorder" under the Act.

Currently those affected can be detained even when they do not have a treatable mental health condition.

Alongside a family from Windsor, they have launched a crowdfunding appeal to allow lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to advise on whether there are grounds to bring a judicial review challenging the government.

Mr and Mrs Johar's 24-year-old son Anmol was in an autism-specific school until he was 19.

After witnessing his increasingly challenging behaviour, they moved him back home where he is now thriving.

Mr Johar said they worry about what might happen if they are not in Anmol's life.

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"Anmol's challenging behaviours decreased once he was back home," he said. "Now, despite his many challenges, he is a happy, fun-loving, cheeky and charismatic young man and brings a lot of joy into our family's life.

He said the family had empowered their son to make his own decisions, "no matter how mundane", and supported him as long as they were legal and not dangerous.

"If we were no longer in Anmol's life for whatever reason and his support broke down or failed through no fault of his, we are concerned that he would become a target to be detained under the MHA simply because he has a diagnosis of autism."

At the end of March, 2,260 people with autism or learning disabilities were being detained in mental health hospitals, NHS figures show.

Anne-Marie Irwin, public law and human rights lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: "This is an issue which is causing great worry, not only to our clients but thousands of others."

Tim Nicholls, head of policy, at the National Autistic Society, said: "We welcome this potential legal action.

"We hope it will help end this national scandal and make sure vulnerable people get the support they need in their own community, near their family and friends."