This commentary explores the issue of personality disorder and mental health legislation from a UK perspective, highlighting the differences between its four countries and three mental health acts. It discusses data from Scotland that support the contention that the addition of the term ‘personality disorder’ to mental health legislation is not alone sufficient to change current practice. The legislative criterion of risk to others is discussed and the varying responses in the UK to the contentious issue of preventive detention, highly likely to be relevant to serious offenders with personality disorder, are described, including the indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection and the order of lifelong restriction. It is concluded that, regardless of location, care of patients with a primary diagnosis of personality disorder will be driven forward not by legislation but by service development, research and changing attitudes.
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