Peter was admitted to a London mental health hospital. He is an informal patient, so he has not been "sectioned" under the Mental Health Act. This means he is entitled to leave the hospital whenever he likes. If staff have concerns about Peter's health or safety they could use powers under the Mental Health Act to detain him.

Peter wants to leave the ward to visit his sister and his friends. On the three occasions he tries to do this the nurses tell him it was not in his best interests to leave. So even though Peter was not detained and free to leave, in practice he was not able to.

Peter had access to an advocate, Rana, who had received human rights training from BIHR. After discussing the issue with Peter, Rana wrote to the hospital on his behalf flagging up concerns that this situation was breaching Peter's right to liberty, protected by Article 5 in the Human Rights Act. Rana explained that although Peter is an informal patient, he was being treated as though the procedures for detaining him had been used. So although he should have been free to leave, he was being detained without any of the safeguards that would have been available if he was detained under the Mental Health Act. Following this Peter's relationship with the nurses greatly improved, and he was permitted to leave when he wanted to. Peter’s mental health improved greatly, and he was discharged shortly after.

Source: Cambridge House Mental Health In-Patient Advocacy Project