Watchdog points to lack of cell safety

Police must receive clearer guidelines and better training on mental health, campaigners have said.

The calls came after the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced that up to half of the 36 people who died in or following custody in the year to March 2005 had mental health problems.

Mind policy officer Moira Fraser called for clearer guidelines and training for police, and clarification from the government on whose duty it was to provide an “appropriate adult” service to vulnerable people.

Andy Bell, director of communications at the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, said people with severe mental health problems should not be in a police cell at all.
He said the 130m of funding announced by the government in October to provide alternative “places of safety” should help, but suggested providing such places should be made a duty (news, 27 October).

The IPCC said that one of those who died in custody had been detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

  • IPCC annual report available from

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