A Care Quality Commission survey showing that a third of hospital 'places of safety' do not accept children and young people is a major cause for concern and requires concerted action, Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan said today.

The Commission identified 161 health-based places of safety in England but found that 56 did not accept people under 16. Almost half (45%) of children detained by the police in a crisis are taken to a police cell rather than hospital to wait for an assessment under the Mental Health Act. This compares with one-third of adults.

Sean Duggan said: "Too many children and young people are being taken to police cells instead of hospital when they are at their most vulnerable. This compromises children’s safety and wellbeing. Children and young people facing a crisis should be assessed in an age-appropriate environment by professionals who have a good understanding of child development, safeguarding responsibilities and children's mental health.

"Children and young people's mental health services have been neglected for too long. We need to develop comprehensive child and adolescent mental health services that can prevent crises wherever possible and offer effective and engaging support immediately when they are needed."