Home secretary's £15m pledge to keep people with mental health issues out of police cells

  • The home secretary Theresa May is pledging £15m to health facilities for 4,000 people a year detained under the Mental Health Act and to ban children being held. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    During her first speech since her reappointment as home secretary, Theresa May is set to tell the Police Federation conference next week that a new policing and sentencing bill will include legislation to ban the use of police cells to detain any young people with mental health problems, reports the Guardian.

    It is believed that over 150 young people each year will be helped by this ban.

    The policing and sentencing bill is also expected to include a manifesto promise to introduce a new sentence based around a "sharp, short spell in custody" that will involve locking up prolific offenders in police cells "to change their behaviour".

    The extra funding is set to save the police time and ensure people with vulnerabilities receive the medical care and support they need.

    May is to tell the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth: "Nobody wins when the police are sent to look after people suffering from mental health problems; vulnerable people don't get the care they need and deserve, and the police can't get on with the job they are trained to do. Last year, over 4,000 people detained under section 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act were held in a police cell rather than in a health-based place of safety. The government will provide the bed and the funding that is needed to stop that happening. This will mean up to £15m of new funding to deliver health-based places of safety in England and a guarantee from this government that no person with mental health problems will be detained by the police due to the lack of a suitable alternative. The right place for a person suffering a mental health crisis is a bed, not a police cell. And the right people to look after them are medically trained professionals, not police officers."

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