Home Affairs Committee: Policing and mental health

The Home Affairs Committee says the prevalence of people with mental health illness in the criminal justice system is a scandal, as it publishes its report on policing and mental health. The Mental Health Act 1983 should be amended so that police cells are no longer stated as a place of safety for those detained under section 136. The police need to make sure they use their powers in relation to mental health correctly, to reduce the numbers detained and so reduce pressure on both the police and the NHS. Frontline staff need to learn from one another, and each organisation needs to understand the priorities of others. Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee, said: “The prevalence of people with mental health illnesses in the criminal justice system is a scandal. It is unacceptable that the police should be filling the gap because the NHS does not have the facilities to look after mentally ill people. The detention of over 6000 adults under s.136 in police cells in England last year is far too high. These people are not criminals, they are ill and often are experiencing a great deal of trauma. The full statistics are available here.