The number of police cells used in mental health crises will be halved

  • A deal signed by 22 national organisations has followed an official report on detentions under section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

    The number of police cells used for people having a mental health crisis is intended to be halved under an agreement between police, mental health trusts and paramedics, reports the Guardian. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    The "crisis care concordat" has been signed by 22 national organisations which include the Department of Health, the Home Office and the charity Mind, and is aimed at securing dramatic improvements in the treatment of people having a mental health crisis.

    The concordat suggests that health-based places of safety and beds should be available all the time. It says that police custody should not be used if mental health services are not available and emergency services vehicles should not be used as ambulances to transfer patients.

    "Those detained under section 136 [of the Mental Health Act 1983] have not committed any crime; they are suspected of suffering from a mental disorder. They may be detained for up to 72 hours, without any requirement for review during this period. In contrast a person arrested for a criminal offence may generally only be detained for 24 hours, with their detention regularly reviewed to ensure that it is still appropriate," says the report.

    Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said: "A mental health crisis can already be distressing for individuals and all those involved, but when people aren't getting the right support or care it can have very serious consequences. It's unacceptable that there are incidents where young people and even children can end up in a police cell because the right mental health service isn't available to them. That's why we're taking action across the country and across organisations to make sure those with mental health problems are receiving the emergency care they need."

    The concordat is backed by NHS England, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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