A Wrexham criminal duty solicitor has trained and qualified to become a member of the Law Society Mental Health Accreditation Scheme in a bid to provide a voice for the increasing number of people with mental health problems who find themselves in the criminal justice system.
Elzbeth Kenny, who qualified as a Criminal Duty Solicitor twelve years ago, is now a member of both the criminal and mental health departments of GHP Legal which has offices in Wrexham, Oswestry, Llangollen and Chirk.
Acting for clients in North and Mid Wales, North West England and Shropshire, GHP Legal has one of the largest mental health departments in the region and is the only firm in North Wales to have three Solicitors on the Mental Health Accreditation Scheme and hold Legal Aid Contracts for Mental Health, Criminal Law and Prison Law.
“Every year one in four of us will experience Mental Health problems, says Elzbeth, “and I believe no-one should have to face such problems alone, especially when a person’s freedom is at risk and, as is all too often the case, their ideas and opinions are not taken seriously.
“Over the past twelve years I have noticed that the number of people with mental health problems experiencing the Criminal Justice system has increasingly become disproportionately high. It is this that moved me to undertake 18 months of hard work, study, mandatory training and commitment to become a Panel Member of the Mental Health Accreditation Scheme.
“Now I will continue to work to uphold the rights of mental health patients and advise their relatives on the extent of their rights and responsibilities to get involved in their care. I will be representing patients in Managers’ Hearings and Tribunals when they appeal against their detention in hospital, to ensure the patient is heard and that they receive the support and respect to which they are entitled. In other words, I will shout on their behalf.”
John Lancaster, Senior Solicitor-Advocate, former Partner of GHP Legal and a respected authority on Mental Health and Deprivation of Liberty, said: “Elzbeth’s background as a former member of the Police authority and her wide experience as a criminal duty solicitor places her in a unique position to speak out for people with mental health problems who find themselves facing the justice system. Her expertise brings a new dimension to the GHP Legal Mental Health Department and I am delighted to welcome her onto the team.”
(from left): John Lancaster (Senior Solicitor-Advocate, Mental Health dept), Elzbeth Kenny (Senior Solicitor, Crime & Mental Health depts), Euros Jones (GHP Legal Partner & Joint Head of Crime dept)