Places of safety must match levels of need

23 October 2014

The Care Quality Commission has reported this week that police custody was used as a place of safety in more than a third of Section 136 Mental Health Act detentions last year. Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan said “We are very concerned that police cells continue to be used in mental health crises and that in some areas appropriate places of safety are still not available. We are particularly concerned about the lack of suitable places of safety for children and young people.

“The Crisis Care Concordat has prompted concerted action in many areas to improve urgent care for people with mental health problems. We need to see health services work closely with the police in every part of the country to put in place robust arrangements for responding to mental health crises. This should include proper care and support for under-18s and people who are intoxicated.

“Some very promising approaches are now emerging, such as the use of ‘street triage’ and locating mental health professionals in police control centres to reduce the number of people who are detained under Section 136. It is vital that the most effective approaches are extended across the country.

“We also need to invest in services that can prevent crises from happening, offering timely help when people seek it and support to recover when they are unwell. And we need to ensure that people who have experienced crisis care are involved in the design and development of better services.”

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