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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.


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.
  • If you are unhappy with the way the police treated you, you can complain to your local police station through the website or, in some cases, through the Independent Office for Police Conduct. You should report your concerns within 12 months of the incident.

This information was published in November 2017. 

This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published. 

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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