Fall in the number of mental health patients detained in police cells
The number of people placed in police cells when in a mental health crisis has reduced by almost a third since last year.
In 2014/15 police custody was used 4,537 times to accommodate people held under section 16 of the Mental Health Act, which is down from 6,667 from the previous year, reports the Guardian.
Section 136 enables police to take people to safe place of safety when they are in a public place. They are able to do this if they believe the person has a mental illness and is in need of care.
Last month the home secretary, Theresa May, announced a crackdown on the practice, telling police officers at their annual 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.”
The Home Office said the figures showed “encouraging progress” but “in some areas there is still a long way to go”.
A spokesman said: “The home secretary is clear that 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.”
Paul Farmer, the chief executive of Mind, said the mental health charity wanted to see a continued downward trend.
“Police cells are not an appropriate place for people in crisis,” he said. “Often people end up in police cells because there is no health-based alternative. The NHS must increase the provision of suitable alternative places of safety to reduce the numbers still further.”
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