What was the County Asylums Act 1828?

Introduction

The County Asylums Act 1828 (9 Geo. IV, c.40, s.51) was an act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that addressed concerns with the administration of asylums and the slow creation of county asylums within Britain.

An Act to amend the Laws for the Erection and Regulation of County Lunatic Asylums. And more effectually to provide for the care and maintenance of Pauper and Criminal Lunatics in England.

Refer to Chronology of UK Mental Health Legislation.

Background

It required magistrates to send annual records of admissions, discharges, and deaths to the Home Office; and allowed the Secretary of State to send a Visiting Justice to any county asylum, although the visitor couldn’t intervene in how the asylum was run.

It also allowed counties to borrow money to build an asylum, but it had to be paid back within 14 years of the initial loan. This was designed to incentivise counties to build asylums, but it did not make it compulsory, a continuation of the County Asylums Act 1808.

It also imposed the requirement of a residential medical officer, whose permission was necessary to justify the restraint of a patient.

Context

Issues of mistreatment and abuse, raised in a 1817 Select Committee report, quickened reform, leading to this Act of Parliament.

At the time of Royal Assent, nine county asylums had been established in England, and the need for more was growing due to overcrowding in public or charity asylums like St. Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics and Bethlehem Royal Hospital.

Acts

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