Siege Mentality; Mother Speaks out as Mentalhealth Security Fears Hit the Headlines Is Working. MERSEYSIDE Mental Health Chiefs Have Launched an Inquiry after a Siege Which Led to the Arrest of Psychiatric Patient Alan McDonald. JANE GALLAGHER,left,asks If the Government's Care in the Community Policy

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Byline: JANE GALLAGHER

EVERY time an incident like this happens, I shudder and ask the question,'Why can't they see that Care in the Community just isn't working?''' says Sharon Fricker in the wake of this week's armed siege.

Sharon, 39, from Huyton,has been campaigning for better support for people with mental health problems ever since her son,Lee, was knifed to death by schizophrenic Leo Gavan in 1996.

``I am not saying the vast majority of people with mental health problems should be locked up,but there are individuals who need more support than they are getting.

``And it is those people who pose a risk not only to themselves but to society as a whole.

``In my view the whole issue of mental health and Care in the Community needs to be reviewed.''

It is a view shared by Liverpool lawyer Mark Davis,of Jackson and Canter Solicitors, who specialises in mental health issues.

``It is all about resources and this question should be asked of the elected members of parliament. I know that the mental health authorities have limited resources and it is not the fault of the workers themselves who do a marvellous job.

``I can't comment on individual cases but legislation will not work unless the resources are made available. You cannot legislate for foresight.

``In the vast majority of cases people with mental health problems are more of a danger to themselves rather than to other people.''

Dr Andrew McCullock, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, says services are desperately in need of more funding.

``Clearly mental health cases can become very serious.

``Mental health services are currently underfunded, caseloads are too high and there is not enough staff.

``The government has set a target of 335 crisis resource teams to be created by next year which is very ambitious - we only have about 60 at the moment.`` However, a spokesman for the Liverpool office of mental health charity MIND said incidents like this week's siege were extremely rare.

``There will always be people who slip through the net but incidents like this are thankfully rare.

``Millions of people fly every day, yet occasionally a plane will fall from the sky.

``The vast majority of people with mental health problems are treated successfully in the community and I believe that if you asked the people of Liverpool whose partners, sons or daughters are suffering from mental health problems whether Care in the Community is working they wouldn't be that critical at all. …