First Previous (PART 2 Involuntary admission of persons to approved centres) Next (PART 4 Consent to Treatment)

25 2001

MENTAL HEALTH ACT, 2001

PART 3

Independent Review of Detention

Establishment day.

31. —The Minister may be order appoint a day to be the establishment day for the purposes of this Part.

Establishment of Mental Health Commission.

32. —(1) On the establishment day there shall stand established a commission to be known as the Mental Health Commission (referred to in this Act as “the Commission”) to perform the functions conferred on it by this Act.

(2) The Commission shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and an official seal and it shall have the power to sue and may be sued in its corporate name and to acquire, hold and dispose of land or an interest in land and to acquire, hold and dispose of any other property.

(3) The Commission shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be independent in the exercise of its functions.

Functions of Commission.

33. —(1) The principal functions of the Commission shall be to promote, encourage and foster the establishment and maintenance of high standards and good practices in the delivery of mental health services and to take all reasonable steps to protect the interests of persons detained in approved centres under this Act.

(2) The Commission shall undertake or arrange to have undertaken such activities as it deems appropriate to foster and promote the standards and practices referred to in subsection (1).

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the Commission shall—

(a) appoint persons to be members of tribunals and provide staff and facilities for the tribunals,

(b) establish a panel of consultant psychiatrists to carry out independent medical examinations under section 17 ,

(c) make or arrange for the making, with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, of a scheme or schemes for the granting by the Commission of legal and to patients,

(d) furnish, whenever it so thinks fit or is so requested by the Minister, advice to the Minister in relation to any matter connected with the functions or activities of the Commission,

(e) prepare and review periodically, after consultation with such bodies as it considers appropriate, a code or codes of practice for the guidance of persons working in the mental health services.

(4) The Commission shall have all such powers as are necessary or expedient for the purposes of its functions.

Conferral of additional functions on Commission.

34. —(1) The Minister may, if he or she so thinks fit, by order—

(a) confer on the Commission such additional functions connected with the functions for the time being of the Commission or the services or activities that the Commission is authorised for the time being to provide or carry on as he or she considers appropriate, and

(b) make such provision as he or she considers necessary or expedient in relation to matters ancillary to or arising out of the conferral on the Commission of functions under this section or the performance by the Commission of functions so conferred.

(2) The Minister may by order amend or revoke an order under this section (including an order under this subsection).

Membership of Commission.

35. —(1) The Commission shall consist of 13 members who shall be appointed to be members of the Commission by the Minister.

(2) Of the members of the Commission—

(a) one shall be a person who has had not less than 10 years' experience as a practising barrister or solicitor in the State ending immediately before his or her appointment to the Commission,

(b) 3 shall be representative of registered medical practitioners (of which 2 shall be consultant psychiatrists) with a special interest in or expertise in relation to the provision of mental health services,

(c) 2 shall be representative of registered nurses whose names are entered in the division applicable to psychiatric nurses in the register of nurses maintained by An Board Altranais under section 27 of the Nurses Act, 1985 ,

(d) one shall be representative of social workers with a special interest in or expertise in relation to the provision of mental health services,

(e) one shall be representative of psychologists with a special interest in or expertise in relation to the provision of mental health services,

(f) one shall be representative of the interest of the general public,

(g) 3 shall be representative of voluntary bodies promoting the interest of persons suffering from mental illness (at least 2 of whom shall be a person who is suffering from or has suffered from mental illness),

(h) one shall be representative of the chief executives of the health boards,

(i) not less than 4 shall be women and not less than 4 shall be men.

(3) The members of the Commission appointed pursuant to subsection (2)(b) shall be persons nominated for appointment thereto by such organisation or organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of such medical practitioners.

(4) The members of the Commission appointed pursuant to subsection (2)(c) shall be persons nominated for appointment thereto by such organisation or organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of such nurses.

(5) The member of the Commission appointed pursuant to subsection (2)(d) shall be a person nominated for appointment thereto by such organisation or organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of such social workers.

(6) The member of the Commission appointed pursuant to subsection (2)(e) shall be a person nominated for appointment thereto by such organisation or organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of such psychologists.

(7) The members of the Commission appointed pursuant to subsection (2)(g) shall be persons nominated for appointment thereto by such organisation or organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of such voluntary bodies.

Terms of office of members of Commission.

36. —(1) A member of the Commission shall hold office for such period not exceeding 5 years and on such other terms as the Minister may determine.

(2) A member of the Commission may resign his or her membership by letter addressed to the Minister and the resignation shall take effect from the date specified therein or upon receipt of the letter by the Minister, whichever is the later.

(3) Each member of the Commission shall be paid such remuneration (if any) and allowances for expenses incurred by him or her (if any) as the Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, determine.

(4) A member of the Commission may at any time be removed from membership of the Commission by the Minister if, in the Minister's opinion, the member has become incapable of performing his or her functions, or has committed stated misbehaviour, or his or her removal appears to the Minister to be necessary for the effective performance by the Commission of its functions.

(5) (a)  If a member of the Commission dies, resigns, becomes disqualified or is removed from office, the Minister may appoint a person to be a member of the Commission to fill the casual vacancy so occasioned and the person so appointed shall be appointed in the same manner as the member of the Commission who occasioned the casual vacancy.

(b)  Subject to the other provisions of this section, a person appointed to be a member of the Commission by virtue of this paragraph shall hold office for the remainder of the term of office of the member who occasioned the casual vacancy he or she is appointed to fill.

(6) A member of the Commission shall be disqualified for holding and shall cease to hold office if he or she is adjudged bankrupt or makes a composition or arrangement with creditors or is sentenced by a court of competent jurisdiction to a term of imprisonment or penal servitude.

(7) A member of the Commission whose period of membership expires by the effluxion of time shall be eligible for re-appointment as a member of the Commission.

Chairperson of Commission.

37. —(1) The Minister shall appoint a member of the Commission to be chairperson of the Commission.

(2) Where the chairperson of the Commission ceases to be a member of the Commission he or she shall also thereupon cease to be chairperson of the Commission.

(3) The chairperson of the Commission may at any time resign his or her office as chairperson by letter sent to the Minister and the resignation shall, unless previously withdrawn in writing, take effect at the commencement of the meeting of the Commission held next after the Commission has been informed by the Minister of the resignation.

(4) The chairperson of the Commission shall, unless he or she sooner dies or otherwise ceases to be chairperson by virtue of subsection (2) or (3), hold office until the expiration of his or her period of membership of the Commission but, if he or she is re-appointed as a member of the Commission, he or she shall be eligible for re-appointment as chairperson of the Commission.

(5) The chairperson of the Commission shall be paid such remuneration (if any) and such allowances for expenses as the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, may from time to time determine.

Chief Executive of Commission.

38. —(1) There shall be a chief executive officer of the Commission who shall be known and is referred to in this Act, as “the Chief Executive”.

(2) The Commission shall appoint the Chief Executive and may, for stated reasons, remove him or her from office with the consent of the Minister.

(3) The Chief Executive shall carry on and manage and control generally the administration and business of the Commission and shall perform such other (if any) functions as may be determined by the Commission.

(4) The Chief Executive shall hold office for such term and upon and subject to such other terms and conditions (including terms and conditions relating to remuneration) as may be determined by the Minister after consultation with the Commission and with the consent of the Minister for Finance.

(5) The Commission shall act through, and its functions shall be performed in the name of the Commission by, the Chief Executive or another officer of the Commission duly authorised in that behalf by the Chief Executive.

(6) In this section “remuneration” includes allowances for expenses, benefits-in-kind and superannuation.

(7) The Chief Executive may make proposals to the Commission on any matter relating to its activities.

(8) The Chief Executive shall devote the whole of his or her time to his or her duties as Chief Executive and shall not hold any other office or position without the consent of the Commission.

(9) The Chief Executive shall not be a member of the Commission.

Staff of Commission.

39. —(1) The Commission may appoint such and such number of persons to be members of the staff of the Commission as it may determine with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance.

(2) The Commission may appoint such and such number of its staff as it considers necessary to assist the Inspector in the performance of his or her functions.

(3) (a)  A member of the staff of the Commission (other than the Chief Executive) shall be paid out of moneys at the disposal of the Commission, such remuneration and allowances for expenses incurred by him or her as the Commission may, with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, determine.

(b)  A member of the staff of the Commission shall hold his or her office or employment on such other terms and conditions as the Commission may, with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, determine.

(4) The grades of the staff of the Commission and the numbers of staff in each grade shall be determined by the Commission with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance.

Superannuation of staff of Commission.

40. —(1) The Commission shall prepare and submit to the Minister a scheme or schemes for the granting of superannuation benefits to or in respect of such members of the staff of the Commission as it may think fit.

(2) Every such scheme shall fix the time and conditions of retirement for all persons to or in respect of whom superannuation benefits are payable under the scheme or schemes and different times and conditions may be fixed in respect of different classes of persons.

(3) Every such scheme may be amended or revoked by a subsequent scheme prepared, submitted and approved under this section.

(4) A scheme submitted by the Commission under this section shall, if approved by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance, be carried out by the Commission in accordance with its terms.

(5) No superannuation benefit shall be granted by the Commission nor shall any other arrangements be entered into by the Commission for the provision of such a benefit to or in respect of a member of the staff of the Commission otherwise than in accordance with a scheme under this section or with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance.

(6) If any dispute arises as to the claim of any person to, or the amount of, any superannuation benefit payable in pursuance of a scheme or schemes under this section, such dispute shall be submitted to the Minister who shall refer it to the Minister for Finance, whose decision shall be final.

(7) A scheme under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the scheme is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the scheme is laid before it, the scheme shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

Borrowing by Commission.

41. —The Commission may, for the purpose of providing for current or capital expenditure, from time to time, borrow money (whether on the security of the assets of the Commission or otherwise), including money in a currency other than the currency of the State, but shall not do so without the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance.

Reports and information to Minister.

42. —(1) As soon as may be after the end of each year beginning with the year in which the establishment day falls, but not later than 6 months thereafter, the Commission shall prepare and submit a report in writing to the Minister of its activities during that year and not later than one month after such submission, the Minister shall cause copies thereof to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

(2) A report under subsection (1) shall include the report of the Inspector under section 51 and other information in such form and regarding such matters as the Minister may direct.

(3) The Commission shall, whenever so requested by the Minister, furnish to the Minister information in relation to such matters as he or she may specify concerning or relating to the scope of its activities, or in respect of any account prepared by the Commission or any report specified in subsection (1) or in section 55 .

(4) The Commission shall, not later than 18 months after the commencement of Part 2, prepare and submit a report in writing to the Minister on the operation of that Part together with any findings, conclusions or recommendations concerning such operation as it considers appropriate.

(5) The Commission may publish such other reports on matters related to its activities and functions, as it may from time to time consider relevant and appropriate.

Membership of either House of Oireachtas or European Parliament.

43. —(1) Where a member of the Commission is—

(a) nominated as a member of Seanad Éireann, or

(b) elected as a member of either House of the Oireachtas or to the European Parliament, or

(c) regarded, pursuant to section 19 of the European Parliament Elections Act, 1997 , as having been elected to the European Parliament to fill a vacancy,

he or she shall thereupon cease to be a member of the Commission.

(2) Where a person employed by the Commission is—

(a) nominated as a member of Seanad Éireann, or

(b) elected as a member of either House of the Oireachtas or to the European Parliament, or

(c) regarded, pursuant to the said section 19, as having been elected to the European Parliament to fill a vacancy,

he or she shall thereupon stand seconded from his or her employment with the Commission and shall not be paid by, or be entitled to receive from, the Commission any remuneration or allowances in respect of the period commencing on such nomination or election, or when he or she is so regarded as having been elected (as the case may be), and ending when he or she ceases to be a member of either such House or such Parliament.

(3) A person who is for the time being entitled under the Standing Orders of either House of the Oireachtas to sit therein or who is a member of the European Parliament shall, while he or she is so entitled or is such a member, be disqualified for becoming a member of the Commission or for employment in any capacity by the Commission.

(4) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2), that subsection shall be construed as prohibiting, among other things, the reckoning of a period therein mentioned as service with the Commission for the purpose of any pensions, gratuities or other allowances payable on resignation, retirement or death.

Grants to Commission.

44. —The Minister may, in each financial year, after consultation with the Commission in relation to its proposed work programme and expenditure for that year, make grants of such amount as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas towards the expenditure incurred by the Commission in the performance of its functions.

Gifts.

45. —(1) The Commission may accept gifts of money, land or other property, upon such trusts or conditions, if any, as may be specified by the donor.

(2) The Commission shall not accept a gift if the trusts or conditions attached to it would be inconsistent with its functions.

(3) Any funds of the Commission which are a gift or the proceeds of a gift to it may, subject to any terms or conditions of the gift, be invested by the Commission in any manner in which a trustee is empowered by law to invest trust funds.

Seal of Commission.

46. —(1) The Commission shall, as soon as may be after its establishment, provide itself with a seal.

(2) The seal of the Commission shall be authenticated by the signature of its chairperson or another member of the Commission authorised by it to act in that behalf and by the signature of an officer of the Commission authorised by it to act in that behalf.

(3) Judicial notice shall be taken of the seal of the Commission and every document purporting to be an instrument made by the Commission and to be sealed with the seal (purporting to be authenticated in accordance with subsection (2)) of the Commission shall be received in evidence and be deemed to be such instrument without proof unless the contrary is shown.

Accounts and audits of Commission.

47. —(1) The Commission shall submit estimates of income and expenditure to the Minister in such form, in respect of such periods, and at such times as may be required by him or her and shall furnish to the Minister any information which he or she may require in relation to such estimates.

(2) A financial year of the Commission shall be a period of 12 months ending on the 31st day of December in any year, and for the purposes of this provision, the period commencing on the date of the commencement of this section and ending on the 31st day of December next after such commencement shall be deemed to be a financial year of the Commission.

(3) The Commission shall cause to be kept on a continuous basis proper books of account of all income and expenditure of the Commission, and of the sources of such income and the subject matter of such expenditure, and of the property, assets and liabilities of the Commission and shall keep all such special accounts as the Minister may from time to time direct.

(4) The Commission and the officers thereof, shall, whenever so requested by the Minister, permit any person appointed by him or her to examine the books and accounts of the Commission in respect of any financial year or other period and shall facilitate any such examination, and the Commission shall pay such fee therefor as may be fixed by the Minister.

(5) (a)  The accounts of the Commission for each year shall be prepared in such form and manner as may be specified by the Minister.

(b)  The accounts shall be submitted as soon as may be but not later than 3 months after the end of the financial year to which they relate by the Commission to the Comptroller and Auditor General for audit.

(c)  A copy of the accounts and the auditor's report thereon shall be presented to the members of the Commission and to the Minister as soon as may be after the end of the financial year to which they relate and the Minister shall cause a copy of the documents aforesaid to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

(6) The Chief Executive shall be the accountable person in relation to the accounts of the Commission and shall, whenever he or she is so required by a Committee of Dáil Éireann established under Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann to examine and report to Dáil Éireann on the appropriation accounts and reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General, give evidence to that Committee on—

(a) the regularity and propriety of the transactions recorded or required to be recorded in any account subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General which the Chief Executive or the Commission is required by or under statute to prepare,

(b) the economy and efficiency of the Commission in the use of its resources,

(c) the systems, procedures and practices employed by the Commission for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of its operations, and

(d) any matter affecting the Commission referred to in a special report of the Comptroller and Auditor General under section 11(2) of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act, 1993 , or in any other report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (in so far as it relates to a matter specified in paragraph (a), (b) or (c)) that is laid before Dáil Éireann.

(7) In the performance of his or her duties under this section, the Chief Executive shall not question or express an opinion on the merits of any policy of the Government or a Minister of the Government or on the merits of the objectives of such a policy.

(8) The Freedom of Information Act, 1997 , shall apply to the Commission.

Mental Health Tribunals.

48. —(1) The Commission shall from time to time appoint one or more tribunals which or each of which shall be known as a Mental Health Tribunal (in this Act referred to as “a tribunal”) to determine such matter or matters as may be referred to it by the Commission under section 17 .

(2) A tribunal shall consist of 3 members.

(3) Of the members of a tribunal—

(a) one shall be a consultant psychiatrist,

(b) one shall be a practising barrister or solicitor who has had not less than 7 years' experience as a practising barrister or solicitor ending immediately before such appointment who shall be the Chairperson of the tribunal, and

(c) one shall be a person other than a person referred to in paragraphs (a) or (b) or a registered medical practitioner or a registered nurse.

(4) At a sitting of a tribunal, each member of the tribunal shall have a vote and every question shall be determined by a majority of the votes of the members.

(5) A member of the Commission shall be disqualified for membership of a tribunal.

(6) A member of a tribunal shall hold office for such period not exceeding 3 years and on such other terms and conditions as the Commission may determine when appointing him or her.

(7) A member of a tribunal may resign his or her membership by letter addressed to the Commission and the resignation shall take effect from a date specified therein or upon receipt of the letter by the Commission, whichever is the later.

(8) Each member of a tribunal shall be paid, such remuneration (if any) and allowances for expenses incurred by him or her (if any) as the Commission may, with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, determine.

(9) A member of a tribunal may at any time be removed from membership of the tribunal by the Commission if, in the Commission's opinion, the member has become incapable through ill-health of performing his or her functions, or has committed stated misbehaviour, or his or her removal appears to the Commission to be necessary for the effective performance by the tribunal of its functions.

(10) A member of a tribunal shall be disqualified for holding and shall cease to hold office if he or she is adjudged bankrupt or makes a composition or arrangement with creditors or is sentenced by a court of competent jurisdiction to a term of imprisonment or penal servitude.

(11) A member of a tribunal whose period of membership expires by the effluxion of time shall be eligible for re-appointment as a member of a tribunal.

(12) In this section “consultant psychiatrist” includes a person who was employed as a consultant psychiatrist by a health board or an approved centre not more than 7 years before his or her appointment under this section.

Powers of tribunals.

49. —(1) A tribunal shall hold sittings for the purpose of a review by it under this Act and at the sittings may receive submissions and such evidence as it thinks fit.

(2) A tribunal may, for the purposes of the functions of the tribunal—

(a) subject to subsection (11), direct in writing the consultant psychiatrist responsible for the care and treatment of a patient the subject of the review concerned to arrange for the patient to attend before the tribunal on a date and at a time and place specified in the direction,

(b) direct in writing any person whose evidence is required by the tribunal to attend before the tribunal on a date and at a time and place specified in the direction and there to give evidence and to produce any document or thing in his or her possession or power specified in the direction,

(c) direct any person in attendance before the tribunal to produce to the tribunal any document or thing in his or her possession or power specified in the direction,

(d) direct in writing any person to send to the tribunal any document or thing in his or her possession or power specified in the direction, and

(e) give any other directions for the purpose of the proceedings concerned that appear to the tribunal to be reasonable and just.

(3) The reasonable expenses of witnesses directed under subsection (2)(b) to attend before a tribunal shall be paid by the Commission out of moneys at the disposal of the Commission.

(4) A person who—

(a) having been directed under subsection (2) to attend before a tribunal and, in the case of a person so directed under paragraph (b) of that subsection, having had tendered to him or her any sum in respect of the expenses of his or her attendance which a witness summoned to attend before the High Court would be entitled to have tendered to him or her, without just cause or excuse disobeys the direction,

(b) being in attendance before a tribunal pursuant to a direction under paragraph (b) of subsection (2), refuses to take the oath on being required by the tribunal to do so or refuses to answer any question to which the tribunal may legally require an answer or to produce any document or thing in his or her possession or power legally required by the tribunal to be produced by the person,

(c) fails or refuses to send to the tribunal any document or thing legally required by the tribunal under paragraph (d) of subsection (2) to be sent to it by the person or without just cause or excuse disobeys a direction under paragraph (c), (d) or (e) of that subsection, or

(d) does any other thing in relation to the proceedings before the tribunal which, if done in relation to proceedings before a court by a witness in the court, would be contempt of that court,

shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

(5) If a person gives false evidence before a tribunal in such circumstances that, if he or she had given the evidence before a court, he or she would be guilty of perjury, he or she shall be guilty of that offence.

(6) The procedure of a tribunal in relation to a review by it under this Act shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be such as shall be determined by the tribunal and the tribunal shall, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, make provision for—

(a) notifying the consultant psychiatrist responsible for the care and treatment of the patient the subject of the review and the patient or his or her legal representative of the date, time and place of the relevant sitting of the tribunal,

(b) giving the patient the subject of the review or his or her legal representative a copy of any report furnished to the tribunal under section 17 and an indication in writing of the nature and source of any information relating to the matter which has come to notice in the course of the review,

(c) subject to subsection (11), enabling the patient the subject of the review and his or her legal representative to be present at the relevant sitting of the tribunal and enabling the patient the subject of the review to present his or her case to the tribunal in person or through a legal representative,

(d) enabling written statements to be admissible as evidence by the tribunal with the consent of the patient the subject of the review or his or her legal representative,

(e) enabling any signature appearing on a document produced before the tribunal to be taken, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to be that of the person whose signature it purports to be,

(f) the examination by or on behalf of the tribunal and the cross-examination by or on behalf of the patient the subject of the review concerned (on oath or otherwise as it may determine) of witnesses before the tribunal called by it,

(g) the examination by or on behalf of the patient the subject of the review and the cross-examination by or on behalf of the tribunal (on oath or otherwise as the tribunal may determine), of witnesses before the tribunal called by the patient the subject of the review,

(h) the determination by the tribunal whether evidence at the tribunal should be given on oath,

(i) the administration by the tribunal of the oath to witnesses before the tribunal, and

(j) the making of a sufficient record of the proceedings of the tribunal.

(7) A witness whose evidence has been, is being or is to be given before the tribunal in proceedings under this Act shall be entitled to the same privileges and immunities as a witness in a court.

(8) A legal representative appearing before the tribunal in proceedings under this Act shall be entitled to the same privileges and immunities as a legal representative in a court.

(9) Sittings of a tribunal for the purposes of an investigation by it under this Act shall be held in private.

(10) The following shall be absolutely privileged:

(a) documents of the tribunal and documents of its members connected with the tribunal or its functions, wherever published,

(b) reports of the tribunal, wherever published,

(c) statements made in any form at meetings or sittings of the tribunal by its members or officials and such statements wherever published subsequently.

(11) A patient shall not be required to attend before a tribunal under this section if, in the opinion of the tribunal, such attendance might be prejudicial to his or her mental health, well-being or emotional condition.

Inspector of Mental Health Services.

50. —(1) There is hereby established the office of Inspector of Mental Health Services and the holder of the office shall be known as the Inspector of Mental Health Services and is referred to in this Act as “the Inspector”.

(2) The Commission shall from time to time appoint a consultant psychiatrist to be the Inspector.

(3) The Inspector shall be paid such remuneration and allowances for expenses as the Commission may, with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, from time to time determine.

(4) The Inspector shall hold office for such period and upon and subject to such terms and conditions as the Commission may determine.

(5) References in any Act of the Oireachtas passed before the commencement of this section or in any instrument made before the commencement of this section, under such an Act of the Oireachtas to the Inspector of Mental Hospitals shall, on and after such commencement, be construed as references to the Inspector.

(6) Anything commenced by the Inspector of Mental Hospitals before the commencement of this section may be carried on and completed on or after that day by the Inspector as if he or she was the Inspector of Mental Hospitals having the powers of that Inspector.

Functions of Inspector.

51. —(1) The principal functions of the Inspector shall be—

(a) to visit and inspect every approved centre at least once in each year after the year in which the commencement of this section falls and to visit and inspect any other premises where mental health services are being provided as he or she thinks appropriate, and

(b) in each year, after the year in which the commencement of this section falls, to carry out a review of mental health services in the State and to furnish a report in writing to the Commission on—

(i) the quality of care and treatment given to persons in receipt of mental health services,

(ii) what he or she has ascertained pursuant to any inspections carried out by him or her of approved centres or other premises where mental health services are being provided,

(iii) the degree and extent of compliance by approved centres with any code of practice prepared by the Commission under section 33 (3)(e), and

(iv) such other matters as he or she considers appropriate to report on arising from his or her review.

(2) The Inspector shall have all such powers as are necessary or expedient for the performance of his or her functions under this Act including but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the following powers:

(a) to visit and inspect at any time any approved centre or other premises where mental health services are being provided and to be accompanied on such visit by such consultants or advisors as he or she may consider necessary or expedient for the performance of his or her functions,

(b) to require any person in such an approved centre or other premises to furnish him or her with such information in possession of the person as he or she may reasonably require for the purposes of his or her functions and to make available to the Inspector any record or other document in his or her power or control that in the opinion of the Inspector, is relevant to his or her functions,

(c) to examine and take copies of, or of extracts from, any record or other document made available to him or her as aforesaid or found on the premises,

(d) to require any person who, in the opinion of the Inspector, is in possession of information, or has a record in his or her power or control, that, in the opinion of the Inspector, is relevant to the purposes aforesaid to furnish to the Inspector any such information or record and, where appropriate, require the person to attend before him or her for that purpose,

(e) to examine and take copies in any form of, or of extracts from any record that, in the opinion of the Inspector, is relevant to the review or investigation and for those purposes take possession of any such record, remove it from the premises and retain it in his or her possession for a reasonable period, and

(f) to take evidence on oath and for that purpose to administer oaths.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), no enactment or rule of law prohibiting or restricting the disclosure or communication of information shall preclude a person from furnishing to the Inspector any such information or record, as aforesaid.

(4) A person to whom a requirement is addressed under this section shall be entitled to the same immunities and privileges as a witness in a court.

Duties of Inspector when making inspection.

52. —When making an inspection under section 51 , the Inspector shall—

(a) see every resident (within the meaning of Part 5) whom he or she has been requested to examine by the resident himself or herself or by any other person,

(b) see every patient the propriety of whose detention he or she has reason to doubt,

(c) ascertain whether or not due regard is being had, in the carrying on of an approved centre or other premises where mental health services are being provided, to this Act and the provisions made thereunder, and

(d) ascertain whether any regulations made under section 66 , any rules made under sections 59 and 69 and the provisions of Part 4 are being complied with,

and the Inspector shall make a report in writing to the Commission in relation to any of the matters aforesaid as he or she considers appropriate.

Penalty for obstruction of Inspector.

53. —A person who—

(a) obstructs or interferes with the Inspector while he or she is exercising any power conferred by or under this Act, or

(b) fails to give any information within his or her knowledge reasonably required by the Inspector in the course of carrying out his or her duties,

shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £1,500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

Assistant Inspectors of Mental Health Services.

54. —(1) The Commission may as occasion requires appoint such, and such number of, persons (who shall be known as Assistant Inspectors of Mental Helath Services and are referred to in this Act as “Assistant Inspectors”) as it may determine to assist the Inspector in the performance of his or her functions.

(2) An Assistant Inspector shall perform such functions of the Inspector, to such extent, as the Inspector may determine, subject to any directions that may be given to the Inspector by the Commission.

(3) An Assistant Inspector shall perform his or her functions subject to the general direction of the Inspector and a function of the Inspector performed pursuant to this Act by an Assistant Inspector shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to have been performed by the Inspector.

(4) An Assistant Inspector shall be paid such remuneration and such (if any) allowances for expenses as the Commission, with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, may from time to time determine.

(5) An Assistant Inspector shall hold office for such period and upon and subject to such terms and conditions as the Commission may, with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, determine.

Inquiries.

55. —(1) The Commission may, and shall if so requested by the Minister, cause the Inspector or such other person as may be specified by the Commission, to inquire into—

(a) the carrying on of any approved centre or other premises in the State where mental health services are provided,

(b) the care and treatment provided to a specified patient or a specified voluntary patient by the Commission,

(c) any other matter in respect of which an inquiry is appropriate having regard to the provisions of this Act or any regulations or rules made thereunder or any other enactment.

(2) Where a person carries out an inquiry under this section, he or she shall, as soon as may be, prepare a report in writing of the results of the inquiry and shall submit the report to the Commission.

(3) A report under subsection (2) shall be absolutely privileged wherever and however published.