The Department of Health has today announced how £6.1m of an overall budget of £15m will be spent on ensuring that suitable ‘places of safety’ are available for people awaiting assessment under the Mental Health Act. Too often people end up in police cells because there is nowhere else for police to take people in crisis.
Forty-one projects will benefit from the funding, which will be allocated to 15 NHS trusts and partnership organisations covering 10 police force areas. They have been focused where use of police cells as a place of safety has previously been among the highest in the country.
More information about where the funding will go can be found on the Department of Health website.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, the mental health charity, said:
“We welcome this announcement, which details how money initially announced last May will be spent. Too many people in mental health crisis end up in police cells when they are unwell, because there is nowhere else for police to take them. When you are in crisis you need to be in an appropriate, safe, therapeutic environment, not treated like a criminal. This funding will help provide more suitable places to take people in some areas, and we look forward to future announcements detailing how the rest of the £15m will reach frontline services, urgently, to ensure people in crisis get the help they need, when they need it.
“At the same time as ensuring funding for appropriate alternatives, we need to draw a line in the sand and agree, as a society, that the practice of putting people in police cells when they are unwell just won’t be tolerated. The Policing & Crime Bill currently going through Parliament will ban the use of police cells for under-18s in mental health crisis and reduce their use for adults, but this doesn’t go far enough. We believe no one should end up in a police cell when they are in a mental health crisis and we are calling on the Government to take the opportunity presented by the Policing and Crime Bill to ban the practice altogether.”