The government has launched a review of the powers granted to police under the Mental Health Act in a bid to determine whether the legislation ‘is fit for purpose’.
The joint Department of Health and Home Office review will examine the operation of sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 – the powers available to police officers to detain someone to a “place of safety”. The project will focus on how the legislation works in practice, particularly in crisis care situations, and how it fits with the Mental Health Act Code of Practice and guidance issued by professional bodies.
The review will analyse existing evidence and consult with police officers, health professionals and members of the public. A report with the review findings and recommendations for change will be published later this year.
In a statement announcing the review, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We know there is a lot of interest about the way that sections 135 and 136 of the Act operate in practice, and the impacts both on the person detained, and on the use of police and health services’ time and resources.
“In particular, police officers can be called upon to make decisions on how to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis, when they may not be the best people to do so. We want to look at the evidence and to make sure that this part of the legislation is fit for purpose, clear and workable.”
In a separate piece of work, the Mental Health Act Code of Practice is also being reviewed. That review will be published by October 2014.