The use of police cells to detain people with mental health problems for their own or other people’s safety is “wholly inappropriate”, according to a joint review published this week by the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) and health and social care agencies.
The review of policing and mental health finds that current protocols for detaining people are not working effectively, and recommends the establishment of assessment centres that could address the needs of people in crisis.
The review was published following the Department of Health’s announcement last week of a £130m capital investment to update the mental health estate across the country to ensure that every mental health trust has access to an “appropriate place of safety”.
The MPA review calls for agencies to make joint bids for DH funds for centres that could provide mental health assessment and deal with violence, restraint and substance misuse.
It also recommends that agreements are established with mental health services so that approved social workers can attend whenever required to reduce the amount of time detainees spend in custody.
It says the lack of police awareness of mental illness is the “biggest challenge” facing agencies, and identifies the need for a comprehensive training programme.