Mentally ill will no longer be held in police cells
Mentally ill will no longer be held in police cells after terrified patients as young as 11 were locked up in custody
- Hundreds are locked in police cells due to lack of hospital beds each year
- A review of the Mental Health Act has called for practice to be banned
- Elderly and BAME communtiy more likely to be detained under the law
Police cells should no longer be used to detain the mentally ill, an official review has said.
Every year hundreds of disturbed and vulnerable people are locked in police stations because no bed can be found for them in a suitable hospital.
Now a review of the Mental Health Act – the law used to detain people with mental illness – has concluded that the practice should be abandoned by 2023/24.
The review’s chairman, Professor Sir Simon Wessely, a psychiatrist, said: ‘There should be a proper place of safety for everyone around the country, not a prison.’
For years experts have criticised the use of police cells to lock up terrified mentally ill patients, some as young as 11.
Now a review of the Mental Health Act – the law used to detain people with mental illness – has concluded that the practice should be abandoned by 2023/24
Their use has dropped dramatically amidst the criticism, falling from 8,700 people locked up in 2011/12 to 408 in 2017/18, and children are no longer detained this way.
The 300-page review report said: ‘Now is the right time to take the next step and remove police cells as a place of safety altogether.’
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The review, which was commissioned by Theresa May to modernise the system by which mentally ill people are sectioned under the Act, also called for patients to get far more say in the way they are treated.
Sir Simon said too many are being sectioned in the first place.
Many elderly people with dementia are detained against their will, when they could be taken to hospital.
And black people are four times more likely to be detained than other groups.
Every year hundreds of disturbed and vulnerable people are locked in police stations because no bed can be found for them in a suitable hospital
He said the number detained under the Act has gone up by 50 per cent in ten years, with nearly 50,000 a year now treated against their will.
Sir Simon called for that number to be cut by up to 20 per cent. He also called for a vast reduction in the use of police cars to take people to hospital.
The Prime Minister last night immediately accepted two of the report’s main recommendations.
She said people will get a legal say in their treatment through the introduction of ‘advance choice documents’, and will be allowed to nominate a person of their choice to be involved in decisions made about their care.
The other recommendations will be assessed in the coming weeks, and if the Government agrees, will require parliamentary amendment of the Mental Health Act.
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