Get help now Make a donation

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.

When do the police get involved?

The three most common ways that people with mental health problems come into contact with the police are if they are:

Victim of crime

In 2013, we published the report At risk, yet dismissed with the charity Victim Support. Findings show that people with mental health problems are:

  • three times more likely to be a victim of crime than the general population
  • five times more likely to be a victim of assault (rising to 10 times more likely for women)
  • more likely to be a repeat victim and experience different types of crime
  • far less likely to be satisfied with the service and support they receive.

Unwell or vulnerable

If people are worried about you and think that you may be unwell or vulnerable, the police have special powers under the Mental Health Act:

  • Section 135 allows a police officer to enter property with a warrant and take you to a place of safety for assessment.
  • Section 136 allows a police officer to take you to a place of safety for assessment under the Mental Health Act if you are in a public place.

For more information see our pages on the Mental Health Act.

Accused of committing a crime

If you have been accused of committing a crime, the police will want to question you and to look into it. The following pages in this resource explain what the procedure for this is, and what your rights are in this situation.

Can I be interviewed if I am not arrested?

The police may ask to go to the police station for a voluntary interview. It is up to you whether you agree. Some things to think about:

  • You have the right to a solicitor present – even for a voluntary interview.
  • The police must arrange an appropriate adult to attend the interview with you if you need one.
  • As you haven't been arrested the police can't impose bail conditions after the interview.
  • You don't have the right to be examined by a doctor/nurse and have your fitness assessed for a voluntary interview.
  • If you don't agree to go voluntarily for the interview, the police may consider whether to have the interview under arrest (see our page on being arrested).

You should to speak to a solicitor before you decide whether to have a voluntary interview.

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.

arrow_upwardBack to Top