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Mind responds to latest data on police Mental Health Act detentions

Wednesday, 31 January 2024 Mind

New data published today by the Home Office has revealed a drop in the number of people publicly sectioned by the police for mental health assessment, between April 2022 and March 2023.

The figures include the number of people held under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, which allows the police to detain someone in a public place if they are in mental health crisis and pose a risk to themselves or anyone else.

The figures show:

  • The number people detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act has decreased by 3% since the previous year to a total of 34, 685.

  • The proportion of people transported from where they were detained in a police vehicle increased and the use of ambulances markedly decreased.*

  • Likewise, the number of people taken to a health-based place of safety for assessment dropped by 8% compared to the previous year.

Since this period, the UK government has introduced a policy called Right Care, Right Person, which will see police attending fewer incidents that involve people with mental health problems.

Vicki Nash, Associate Director of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, said:

“NHS figures show there has been an increase in the number of people experiencing mental health crisis, so it is concerning to see a drop in these policing figures. We must ask what is happening to make sure people are kept safe and receive the right care.

“Reaching crisis is one of the most frightening things someone can experience and keeping people with mental health problems safe will always be core police business.

“We are also alarmed to see a decrease in people being taken to a health-based place of safety to receive the right care, especially alongside more people being transported in police vehicles and fewer in ambulances. People consistently tell us that these experiences make them feel like criminals at a time when they most need sensitive, specialist care.

“This data shows there needs to be careful consideration of how the change to policing and mental health through the Right Care, Right Person policy is handled. We already have concerns around the speed of change, and it is vital that all agencies are resourced to deal with it.”



* Excluding these “not known” cases, a police vehicle was used in 61% (20,006) of cases. An ambulance was used in a further 11,515 cases, or just over a third (35%), and the remaining 5% were ‘None (already at a place of safety)’, ‘Other health vehicle’, or ‘Other’[footnote 11].

In the year ending 31 March 2023 there has been an increase in the number and proportion of cases where a police vehicle was used, compared with the previous 5 years. With the exception of the year ending March 2021 (during the COVID-19 pandemic), when the proportion was lower, it had been between 51% and 54% in each of the previous 5 years. Corresponding with this, the proportion of cases where an ambulance was used was lower in the latest year than in previous 5 years, where it had been between 41% and 45% (except during the COVID-19 pandemic).

The full data is available here.

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