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.

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

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Crisis care in Wales

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

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Posted on 17/05/2017

What are sections 135 and 136?

What is section 135?

Section 135 allows the police to enter your home and take you to (or keep you at) a place of safety so that a mental health assessment can be done. This could involve keeping you at home.

The police must have a warrant from the magistrate’s court allowing them to enter your home. An application for a warrant must be made by an approved mental health practitioner (AMHP), and can be given where there is reasonable cause to believe that you:

  • have a mental disorder, and
  • are being ill-treated or neglected, or
  • are unable to look after yourself.

The police must be accompanied by an AMHP and a registered medical practitioner.

The police can keep you at the place of safety for up to 24 hours, which can be extended for another 12 hours if it was not possible to assess you in that time. The time starts when you arrive at the place of safety, or whenever the police arrived if you are not taken somewhere else.

What is section 136?

Section 136 allows the police to take you to (or keep you at) a place of safety. They can do this without a warrant if:

  • you appear to have a mental disorder, AND
  • you are in any place other than a house, flat or room where a person is living, or garden or garage that only one household has access to, AND
  • you are “in need of immediate care or control” (meaning the police think it is necessary to keep you or others safe).

Before using section 136 the police must consult a registered medical practitioner, a registered nurse, or an AMHP, occupational therapist or paramedic.

The police can keep you at the place of safety for up to 24 hours, which can be extended for another 12 hours if it was not possible to assess you in that time. The time starts when you arrive at the place of safety, or whenever the police arrived if you are not taken somewhere else.

What is a ‘place of safety’?

A place of safety can be:

  • a hospital
  • a care home
  • a police station
  • your or someone else’s home or room
  • other suitable premises where the manager of those premises agrees.

Your home or room can only be used as a place of safety if you agree and, if you live with other people, they agree too. Someone else’s home or room can only be used if you both agree.

A police station can only be used as a place of safety if your behaviour poses an imminent risk of serious injury or death to yourself or another person. The decision must be authorised by an inspector after consulting with a registered medical practitioner, a registered nurse, an appropriate healthcare practitioner, an occupational therapist or a paramedic.

Rules for using a police station as a place of safety

If a police station is used as a place of safety the following rules apply:

  • The police must check on your welfare every 30 minutes.
  • A healthcare professional should be available throughout.
  • The police must review at least hourly (or every three hours if you’re asleep) whether you still need to be kept at a police station rather than some other place of safety. If you no longer need to be at a police station they should transfer you to another place.

Police stations must never be used as a place of safety for anyone under the age of 18.

Can I challenge the police’s decision?

There are no rights to appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal (MHT) if you are taken to (or kept at) a place of safety under sections 135 or 136.

If you feel you've been treated unfairly you could:

  • Make a complaint. See our pages on complaining about health and social care for information on how to do this.
  • Seek legal advice about bringing a claim for unlawful detention, if you think the police have not followed the legal requirements under sections 135 or 135 (described on this page above).

You can get in touch with a solicitor by using the Law Society's find a solicitor tool, or by calling them. You can ask for a solicitor based on what area of law they specialise in, and where they are located. (See useful contacts for details on how to get in touch with the Law Society.)

 


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


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