Surveillance in mental health settings – NSUN response to JCHR inquiry

NSUN’s written evidence to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) inquiry into the protection of human rights in care settings has been published here on the Committees website.

The submission focussed in on surveillance (including body-worn cameras and CCTV in rooms, wards, and common areas) as restrictive practice and the criminalisation of distress in relation to securitisation and racial disparities.

NSUN is increasingly hearing of blanket 24-hour surveillance in mental health settings and we are concerned that surveillance may be used in lieu of adequate and safe staffing levels. We recently published a statement by Camden Borough User Group in our weekly bulletin about their concerns regarding the Oxevision monitoring system.

Mary Sadid, Policy Officer at NSUN, said:

“Surveillance is a restrictive practice and its use demands serious scrutiny. Oxevision, and its surveillance methods, are being promoted as part of the NHS Innovation Accelerator, the same programme that supposed the Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) scheme.

Blanket surveillance is never okay, and especially not as a solution to inadequate staffing levels. Whilst some service users may experience positive outcomes as a result of surveillance-based monitoring, this can never justify non-consensual 24/7 blanket surveillance.

Consent needs to be specific, individual, informed and ongoing.

It should not be down to service-users to ensure their rights and safety are upheld by care-providers, as we saw with the StopSIM campaign.

Oxevision is part of a wider trend in securitisation of health. Along with increased policing presence in mental health and practices like the use of body-worn cameras by care staff, we are seeing ethically questionable practices that may be sources of harm introduced under the guise of safety.”

Read NSUN’s full submission to the inquiry here.

We’re asking any members who are user-led groups and are interested in joining a small coalition forming to work on surveillance in mental health care to contact us. Additionally, if you have experience or knowledge of the use of Oxevision or other forms of surveillance in your local Trust, we’d be interested in hearing from you. You can get in touch with Mary at