The Mentally-Ill Locked up in Police Cells Instead of Getting Treatment
According to a report today DOUBLE the number of mentally ill are held in police cells than in hospital.
Thousands of people with mental health problems are being detained in police cells rather than being taken to hospital for assessment, a report says.
Over a year, more than 11,500 people were held in police custody for assessment under the Mental Health Act - double the number taken to hospital.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission collated data for all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
IPCC commissioner Ian Bynoe said the situation was "intolerable".
Section 136 of the Mental Health Act enables officers to take someone they believe is suffering from a mental disorder, and in need of immediate care or control, from a public place to a "place of safety" where they can be examined by a doctor and interviewed by an approved social worker.
The continued use of cells not only diverts police resources from fighting crime, but criminalises behaviour which is not a crime
IPCC commissioner Ian Bynoe
It is generally agreed that police custody should be used only in exceptional cases.
But the IPCC report suggests it is being used as the main place of safety.
Wide variations occurred across police forces in the use of police custody as a place of safety and this was largely explained by the availability of alternative places of safety.
Cheshire Police and Merseyside Police reported low levels of detention under section 136 (one per 10,000 people in custody), while Sussex Police and Devon and Cornwall Police reported high rates (277 per 10,000 and 174 per 10,000 respectively).
The IPCC found examples where forces had received funding to build new dedicated places of safety, but no money for staffing, and so they remained unused.