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Use of police cells for people in crisis halved since 2011/12

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 Mind

The Department of Health has announced that the use of police cells as ‘places of safety’ for people in mental health crisis has been reduced by 55 per cent since 2011/12.

This is linked to the work being done as part of the Crisis Care Concordat, which is a programme designed to improve the care people received in crisis. 

The Concordat was introduced by the former Minister for Care and Support Norman Lamb in February 2014 and is signed by 22 national bodies involved in health, policing, social care, housing, local government and the third sector. The Concordat focuses on four main areas: access to support before crisis point; urgent and emergency access to crisis care; quality of treatment and care when in crisis; and recovery and staying well. 

Following the national commitment, every local area was tasked with making their own declaration and developing an action plan, which is signed by a minimum of eight core services and organisations including the NHS, police and local authorities. Each action plan is publicly available online at

At the same time, ‘street triage’ – where a mental health professional assists police called out to support people in crisis – has been trialled in nine pilot sites across England. The Department of Health has announced that more than almost 10,000 people were helped through these pilots in just 12 months. A further 17 areas now have street triage schemes. 

The Minister for Community and Social Care, Alistair Burt said:

“Having a mental illness is not a crime. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis should be treated with the same urgency and compassion as someone with a broken leg, rather than ending up in a police cell. 

“Too often this has not been the case but every part of the country is working hard to change that. I’m proud of these results and I’m determined to build on this further so that everyone in crisis gets the care they need in the right place at the right time.” 

Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at Mind, said:

“We are really pleased to see such a big reduction in the use of police cells. No one in crisis should have to wait in a cell because of a lack of suitable health services. That some forces have used street triage and other initiatives to dramatically improve the support they provide to people in crisis shows what can be done. We need now to see this kind of progress all over the country. 

“The Crisis Care Concordat is a large-scale, important piece of work and Mind is proud to have been involved in getting it up and running. There is a long way to go to improve services but these early signs of progress are very encouraging. We now need to keep up the momentum for change and make sure that, no matter where you are in England, you can access high quality care and support if you find yourself in crisis.” 

You can read the full announcement on the Department of Health website.

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