PCC welcomes Government Minister to Crawley ahead of changes to the Mental Health Act

09/02/2016

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, along with Chief Constable, Giles York, met with Karen Bradley MP, Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation, during her visit to Crawley on Friday (5 February).

The Minister visited Crawley Police Station and Langley Green Hospital to see how Sussex Police and NHS staff are working together to help improve the experience of people detained under s136 of the Mental Health Act.

Commenting on the visit, Mrs Bourne said: “I was delighted to welcome the Minister and show her how Sussex Police and partners are working together to improve the position for people being detained under s136 of the Mental Health Act and the reduction in numbers coming into police custody as a place of safety.

“In the past if the police received a call about a person in crisis they may have had to detain that person under the Mental Health Act in order to get them the help they need. However police, where possible, will now take someone to a place of safety at a local mental health facility where the right help will be available.

“In 2014, 738 people arrested under the Mental Health Act were taken to police custody in Sussex compared to just 190 in 2015.”

The Minister was given a tour of Crawley Custody Centre by Inspector David Shepard and spoke at length with Chief Superintendent Di Roskilly, Mental Health Champion for Sussex Police and Sarah Gates, Mental Health Liaison Officer.

Chief Superintendent Di Roskilly said: “We welcome the visit from the Minister, who came to see how well we are working together with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to provide better support for people in a mental health crisis. Anyone who is in crisis and needs support should be assessed in a hospital place of safety rather than a police cell.

“We have seen reductions of those detained under s136 of around a quarter compared to previous years and of those, the majority are being taken to a hospital place of safety rather than police custody. It is anticipated that with the continued collaboration between Sussex Police and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, these numbers will continue to fall.”

Karen Bradley, MP said: “The best place for people experiencing a mental health crisis is a healthcare setting, and those experiencing mental health problems should receive specialist care and support from healthcare professionals, rather than police officers.

“Too often and for far too long, vulnerable people experiencing a mental health crisis who have committed no crime have found themselves in a police cell because there is nowhere else to go.

“These measures will ensure a police cell is truly a place of last resort for vulnerable people experiencing mental health crises. Nobody wins when the police are sent to look after people with mental health problems; vulnerable people don’t get the care they need and deserve, and the police can’t get on with the job they are trained to do.”

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