Police and mental health

Explains when you may have contact with the police, what happens if you are arrested and what your rights are if you are taken to the police station. Applies to England and Wales.

Your stories

The night I spent in a cell

Claire blogs about why a police cell was the last place she needed to be during a mental health crisis.

Posted on 27/11/2014

Mental illness and violence

Marion Janner on substance abuse, stigma and sense of self.

Posted on 01/03/2010

Crisis care in Wales

Sara blogs about the changes to crisis care in Wales resulting from the Crisis Care Concordat.

Sara Moseley
Posted on 17/05/2017


 Quick facts

  • Sometimes people with mental health problems may come into contact with the police. The three most common ways are:
    • as a victim of crime
    • if you are unwell or vulnerable
    • if you are accused of committing a crime.
  • Our 2013 report reveals that people with mental health problems are:
    • more likely to be victims of crime
    • likely to feel the impact of being a victim of crime more acutely
    • less likely to get the support they need.
  • If you are arrested for a committing a crime, it is important that you tell the police (and other professionals) that you have a mental health problem so that you receive the right care and support.
  • You have certain rights if you are taken to the police station, including the right to free legal advice and the right to medical help.

Please note

  • This guide covers dealing with the police from the point of view of a person with a mental health problem.
  • This guide applies to England and Wales.
  • This guide contains general legal information, not legal advice. We recommend you get advice from a specialist legal adviser or solicitor who will help you with your specific situation and needs. See Useful contacts for more information.
  • The legal information in this guide does not apply to children unless specifically stated.


This information was published in November 2017. We will revise it in 2019.

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