Police Reveal ‘Unlawful’ Mental Health Detentions

Police chiefs in England and Wales say they may be unlawfully detaining arrested people needing mental health care more than 2,000 times a year. Some people have been held in police cells for several days because there is no hospital bed for them, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) says. It says an inquiry into such mental health provision is needed. The government said the use of police custody for people detained under the Mental Health Act had fallen sharply. Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, officers have 24 hours after an arrested person arrives at a police station to release or charge them. But data gathered by the College of Policing, and shared with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, showed 264 instances where people were held for longer when they were judged to be in need of mental healthcare after being arrested. In one case an adult was detained for six days before a bed was identified. A child was detained for five days.

By Ross Hawkins, BBC Radio 4,

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