Seni’s Law approved by Parliament
Steve Reed has become the first Labour MP in 22 years to secure a major new Act of Parliament from opposition. Seni’s Law, officially known as the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act, received Royal Assent this week after passing through all stages in Parliament.
The new law, named after Seni Lewis who died aged just 21 in a mental health hospital after he was violently pinned down on the floor, brings in new protections for mental health patients. Seni’s parents, Aji and Conrad Lewis, fought for years first to get an inquest opened into their son’s death, and then with Steve to change the law so that no one else would suffer and die the way Seni did.
Steve thanked Seni’s parents and other campaigners after Seni’s Law was approved. He said:
I am so proud of everyone who helped me make this a reality. I pay special tribute to Seni Lewis’s parents, Aji and Conrad, who never gave up the fight for justice after their son’s tragic death. This new law gives mental health patients in our country the best protection in the world against abusive restraint and aims to stop any more deaths in custody. I’d like to thank everyone who’s helped us get this far. But above all, on this special day, we remember Seni Lewis and hope this new law will stand as a lasting legacy for him.
Steven Reed is Labour MP for Croydon North and Shadow Minister for Children and Families. In 2018 his private member’s bill on reducing violent mental health restraint became law. In June 2019 he launched Labour’s civil society strategy outlining radical plans to empower citizens and communities.
Steve chairs the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network, co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London, was Leader of Lambeth Council 2006-12 where he led the council’s children’s services to become best-rated in the country and pioneered the public-health approach to tackling violent youth crime. He worked in publishing for 16 years and was an elected trade union branch secretary.