Chief superintendent Irene Curtis has said that A&E would be a better environment for people when mental health units are unavailable. The Association of Chief Police Officers have backed this up by saying a fifth of police time is taken up dealing with the mentally unwell.
Currently the police are able to detain people where no crime has been committed if the person in question is suspected of being mentally unwell. This act is a temporary police power called a section 136.
Figures have revealed that between 2011 and 2012, 9,000 people were detained under this section. Police have said that this number represents just a fraction of the people they have to deal with. Irene Curtis believes hospitals would be a better option when mental health units are not available.
Care minister Norman Lamb has said that a closer working relationship between mental health services and the police is needed.
“It shouldn’t be about police just saying we’re going to take them, march them into an A&E department and abdicate our responsibility. That’s not the right way. It should be police together with mental health, reaching a conclusion about what is in that patient’s best interests.”
He also commented that some of the care received by people in a moment of crisis in mental health is unacceptable and a ‘national scandal’.
The Freedom of Information requests sent by BBC Panorama to 52 mental health trusts in England has suggested that the number of beds available within mental health units has fallen by 17% between 2008 and 2013.
If you want to find out more about mental health and how counselling could help – please see our page on Mental Health.
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