Guidance issued to police today will see many new changes in the way police respond to call outs from December 11. Police will now be expected to "keep" individuals at a 'place of safety' (including, potentially, their home) rather than move them to hospitals or police station, which what has typically happened to date.
Police are to receive new powers next month to search people with mental health needs.
The new search power allows police officers to search people in distress when section 135 or 136 ('sectioning') orders are imposed.
Mental Health Today were first last week to reveal 1,000 people vulnerable people were detained in police cells last year.
New guidance released by the Department of Health reveals police will now be given the powers to carry out searches for "their own safety".
Guidance issued to police today will see many new changes in the way police respond to call outs from December 11 onwards:
• section 136 powers may now be exercised anywhere other than in a private
• it is now unlawful to use a police station as a place of safety for anyone under the age of 18 in any circumstances
• a police station can now only be used as a place of safety for adults in specific circumstances, which are set out in regulations
• the previous maximum detention period of up to 72 hours has been reduced to 24 hours (unless a doctor certifies that an extension of up to 12 hours is necessary)
• before exercising a section 136 power police officers must, where practicable, consult one of the health professionals listed in section 136(1C), or in regulations made under that provision
• a person subject to section 135 or 136 can be kept at, as well as removed to, a place of safety. Therefore, where a section 135 warrant has been executed, a person may be kept at their home (if it is a place of safety) for the purposes of an assessment rather than being removed to another place of safety
• a new search power allows police officers to search persons subject to section 135 or 136 powers for protective purposes.
More information on how police triage could progress further can be found here.