Centres should replace use of cells

The use of police cells to detain people with mental health problems 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 protocols for detaining people are not working effectively, and recommends the use of assessment centres that could help people in crisis.

The review was published following the Department of Health’s announcement last week of a £130m  investment to update the mental health estate across England to ensure every mental health trust can use an “appropriate place of safety”.

The MPA-led 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.

  • From www.mpa.gov.uk
  • Research from the National Autistic Society found that 92 per cent of police lacked training in autism. It published the research to coincide with the launch of its campaign on autism and the criminal justice system.
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