New rules restricting the use of police cells as places of safety come into effect
The government has introduced a package of measures to drastically cut the use of police cells as places of safety that come into force yesterday.
The new mental health provisions will mean it will no longer be possible to place children (under 18s) experiencing a mental health crisis in a police cell. For adults, the use of police cells as places of safety will be significantly restricted and it will only be possible for them to be used in exceptional circumstances. The period for which a person can be detained for the purpose of a mental health assessment will also be cut from 72 to 24 hours.
Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability said:
Too often and for far too long vulnerable people experiencing mental health crisis, who have committed no crime, have found themselves in a police cell because there is nowhere else to go.
This government has been clear that the best place for people suffering mental health crisis is a healthcare setting and not a police station.
The change in legislation will build on progress already made by police forces and health care partners that saw use of police cells for those experiencing a mental health crisis halve in the last year.
While 23 force areas reduced their use of police cells as places of safety for children to single figures or zero in the last year, the law change will ensure no child will end up in a police cell.
To ensure there are sufficient alternatives in place the Department of Health has provided a total of £30 million to health partners to increase provision across the country of local health and community-based places of safety.
Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price said:
When you are experiencing a mental health crisis, the last place you’d want to be is in police custody and it is totally inappropriate for a child to be taken to a cell just because they are ill.
We have seen a 90% reduction in England in the number of people being held in custody who should be in NHS care – this move will mean that for young people this will finally be a thing of the past. We are also investing £30m to increase and improve places of safety for people in crisis.
Further provisions that have also been introduced for section 135 and 136 powers, which are the powers used by police to detain someone under the mental health act include:
- extending section 136 powers to any place other than a private residence, so that police officers can act promptly when an individual is found in mental distress, and is in need of care and control
- requiring police officers to consult with mental health practitioners when possible before exercising a section 136 power, to help ensure that such a step is absolutely necessary in the circumstances
- an ability to conduct a mental health assessment in a person’s home following the use of a section 135 warrant, if that is considered to be in the interests of the person, rather than removing them to a different place of safety
Latest News from
New legislation protects national security capability to fight serious crime25/09/2020 11:10:00
The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Bill will underpin the longstanding work of intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
New tough measures to tackle modern slavery in supply chains23/09/2020 11:10:00
Government's response to the transparency in supply chains consultation sets out new measures to hold businesses and public bodies accountable for tackling modern slavery.
Ministerial meeting to discuss key drugs issues18/09/2020 11:10:00
Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse and Public Health Minister Jo Churchill yesterday (Thursday 17 September) hosted a meeting to discuss key issues around illicit drugs.
What are we doing in DevOps at the Home Office?16/09/2020 15:20:00
Blog posted by: Will McGeehin, 15 September 2020 – Categories: DevOps, Recruitment.
100,000 apply to join police in first year of recruitment drive15/09/2020 11:10:00
100,000 milestone hit one year after the Government launched campaign to recruit 20,000 additional officers
Rule of six comes into effect to tackle coronavirus14/09/2020 10:25:00
Rule applies across indoor and outdoor settings, with police able to disperse gatherings of over six people and fine individuals involved.
Home Secretary speech at the Police Superintendents' Association conference09/09/2020 15:20:00
Home Secretary Priti Patel delivered a virtual address to the Police Superintendents' Association conference on Tuesday 8 September 2020.
Priti Patel to create police covenant to protect officers and staff09/09/2020 11:10:00
Consultation finds overwhelming support for the police covenant, which will be enshrined in law to recognise the service and sacrifice of police.