Norman LambThe use of police cells for people awaiting treatment for mental illness must become a thing of the past if we are to achieve true equality for mental health, according to Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb.

In a speech to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Lamb said that he wanted crisis care to be a focus for local areas.

Nationally, there has been a 24% reduction in Place of Safety Orders made where an individual was taken to a police station in the past year, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre. The reported number decreased from 7,905 in 2012/13 to 6,000 in 2013-14.

Some regions have been particularly successful, with Greater Manchester reporting a 98% reduction within the past financial year, and the West Midlands a 90% reduction. Other significant reductions were reported in South Yorkshire (63%), Gloucestershire (51%) and West Yorkshire (44%). Meanwhile, London wants make it a never event.

“We’ve gone further than ever before to put mental health on a par with physical health and these figures are very promising," said Lamb.

“People with mental distress need urgent, compassionate care. I want every area to be as ambitious as Manchester and London in their efforts to prioritise mental health and improve crisis care.

“But there is still work to do, which is why we’re introducing the first waiting time standards for mental health services and I’ve asked every local area to sign a declaration to improve crisis care by the end of this year. By working together, we can make sure everyone gets the care they need, no matter where they live.”