Cells ‘no place’ for people with mental health issues

A £15million funding boost could help people with mental health issues avoid police cells.

Katy Bourne, PCC for Sussex. Taken at County Hall, Lewes. 11/10/13 SUS-140220-090821001
Katy Bourne, PCC for Sussex. Taken at County Hall, Lewes. 11/10/13 SUS-140220-090821001

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has welcomed Government plans to find alternative places for people who spend time in detention in police cells under the Mental Health Act.

“Police cells are no place for people with a mental illness and so I welcome the commitment of more Government funding,” said Mrs Bourne. “Dealing with the issue is a challenge for all of us, not least police officers who regularly come into contact with those living with mental illness. Vulnerable people in our society need to receive improved support and care from health professionals.

“They should not be greeted by police officers, handcuffed and taken to a cell, but instead be seen by medical experts, who can offer them the appropriate healthcare and support. In Sussex, we are already leading the way with our mental health street triage scheme, which involves police officers working alongside mental health professionals to ensure those in mental health crises are dealt with by the NHS rather than taken into police custody.”

Since the ‘street triage’ pilot started in Eastbourne in October, 2013, 250 admissions to police custody have been avoided for those detained under the Mental Health Act. From January, 2015, a further 48 have been avoided in Worthing, along with 45 in Hastings and ten in Crawley. In April, the Chief Constable announced he had withdrawn police custody as a place of safety for children and young people under 18 who had been detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act. They are now taken to hospitals as alternative places of safety.

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