People in mental health crises are treated like criminals, says report

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 21 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f4036
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

Every year over 9000 people in England and Wales who are held under the Mental Health Act are put in police cells despite codes of practice saying that this should occur only in exceptional circumstances.

A joint report from HM Inspectorates of Constabulary and Prisons, the Care Quality Commission, and the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales calls for a number of changes to ensure that fewer people with mental disorders are detained in police custody and treated as if they were criminals.1

The police have powers under section 136 of the Mental Health Act to take a person who has mental health problems to a place of safety for their protection and for medical assessment. The Code of Practice for England and the Code of Practice for Wales state that a police station should be used as a place of safety only in exceptional circumstances. But in 2011-12 …

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