The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health has called for greater health and social care involvment in the care of people with mental health problems being held in police custody.
Around 11,000 people every year are detained at police stations as a designated “place of safety” under the Mental Health Act, often because there are no appropriate health facilities available. A report released by the charity yesterday said that of those, just 6,400 were placed in hospitals rather than “crowded and chaotic” station cells.
The report called for specialist mental health assessment suites to be established across the country and said that police officers needed to be made more aware of mental health issues.
Co-author Rob Fitzpatrick said: “The police are often the first point of contact for a person in a mental health crisis. Yet police officers rarely have mental health training and there are too few opportunities to divert people from police stations to health and social care services.”
A recent survey by the Independent Police Complaints Commission found that one in 1,686 people detained in police custody were involved in a potentially fatal incident of self-harm or illness each year in England and Wales.