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Rising number of people sectioned by police under Mental Health Act

PUBLISHED: 05:30 09 November 2020 | UPDATED: 09:44 09 November 2020

Under section 136 of the Mental Health Act, police can detain someone and take them to a place of safety if they are deemed to have a mental illness and pose a risk to themselves or others  Picture: ARCHANT

Under section 136 of the Mental Health Act, police can detain someone and take them to a place of safety if they are deemed to have a mental illness and pose a risk to themselves or others Picture: ARCHANT

Police detentions under the Mental Health Act went up by almost a third in a year, figures have shown.

Suffolk police used section 136 of the Mental Health Act to detain people on 396 occasions in the year ending March 31 up 31% on the previous 12 months.

Detentions increased by 3% on average across the country.

The force said it regularly reviewed the impact of mental health demand on already stretched resources.

Last week, statistics showed it had dealt with 15,000 mental health calls since 2018.

Under section 136, police can detain someone and take them to a place of safety if they are deemed to have a mental illness and pose a risk to themselves or others.

A detention can last up to 24 hours and be extended by up to 12 hours by a medical examiner.

Places of safety can include a person’s home, a healthcare setting or a police station.

On two occasions, a police station was used as a place of safety following detention.

A police station can only be used with the authorisation of a senior officer and for adults whose behaviour poses imminent risk.

For almost half of detentions (189), a police vehicle was used as transport to the first place of safety. In 72 cases, it was used because an ambulance was not available within 30 minutes.

Last month, the Independent Office for Police Conduct said officers were having to deal increasingly with vulnerable people in mental health crisis, whose needs and risks had not been adequately managed.

Chief Inspector Nigel Huddlestone, from Suffolk police control room, said that only through a collective effort would those in need of support receive the best service, adding: “Incidents in which mental health is a factor are a significant part of our day to day work.

“Suffolk Constabulary regularly assesses and reviews the impact that mental health demand has on our already stretched police resources. We are continually working to gain a better understanding of the demand we face in this area.

“Our officers strive every day to protect the vulnerable, often in difficult and complex situations on the frontline, working with our health partners to ensure people receive the treatment and support they need.

“As well as our triage service in the control room, we also have mental health nurses accompanying officers in some response vehicles, and we also provide on-going officer training.

“We continue to work closely with our partners in the mental health community at a local and regional working group level as well as at a national level, in line with our mental health action plan.”


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