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.
Once you are taken to the police station you have the right to:
It is important that you tell the police and professionals that you have a mental health problem so that you receive the right care and support. What kind of support you get will depend on your circumstances. For example, you may:
The custody officer or your solicitor can ask for an assessment by the Liaison and Diversion service. You can also ask for an assessment yourself.
You can find out more about Liaison and Diversion services from the NHS England website.
Jason has been accused of shoplifting. He was taken to a local police station. He told the custody officer that he has schizophrenia and needs to take regular medication. He was seen by a doctor who confirmed that he was well enough to be interviewed and made arrangements for him to receive his medication.
If you are held by the police and they realise, or are told, that you have a mental health problem, you have the right to be accompanied by an appropriate adult.
They should be an adult who is independent of the police, such as a member of your family or a mental health worker, but they cannot be your solicitor. You may be asked if you have a friend or family member you would like to ask or it could be a professional.
An appropriate adult should:
See our pages on police and mental health for more information.See our full list of legal terms.
This is the solicitor or specialist legal adviser who will be available to give you advice at the time that you are taken to the police station. They are completely independent of the police and you do not have to pay for them to attend the police station. You are allowed to choose your own if you prefer.See our full list of legal terms.
Liaison and Diversion services identify people who have mental health problems, a learning disability, substance misuse or other vulnerabilities when they first come into contact with the criminal justice system as suspects, defendants or offenders.
You should be assessed by someone from this service, who will:
This is the term used for the medical professional who is called to the police station if you need medical assessment or treatment.See our full list of legal terms.
This is the law that sets out the rules that police must follow when you are arrested about how they treat you.See our full list of legal terms.
This information was published in November 2017. We will revise it in 2019.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.