cell doorThe amount of Place of Safety Orders made under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 rose by 5% in the past year, but the number where an individual was taken to a police station fell by 24%, according to latest figures.

Annual figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show that 23,300 Place of Safety Orders were made in 2013/4, up from 22,200 in 2012/3.

Meanwhile, the reported number of Place of Safety Orders made where an individual was taken to a police station has decreased by 24% from 7,905 in 2012/13 to 6,000 in 2013-14. In contrast, the number of times an individual was taken to hospital increased by 21%, from 14,100 in 2012/13 to 17,000 in 2013/14.

The Mental Health Act gives police powers to take people who appear to be suffering from a mental disorder to a ‘Place of Safety’ for assessment for up to 72 hours – in the interests of the health or safety of the person, or the protection of the public. After assessment, the person will either be taken to hospital if not already there and detained under another section of The Act, admitted informally to hospital, or released.  

The report – Inpatients formally detained in hospitals under the Mental Health Act 1983, and patients subject to supervised community treatment, England 2013-146 – showed that the Mental Health Act was used 53,200 times in 2013-14 to detain people in hospital for longer than 72 hours. This is 5% higher than the previous year and 30% higher than 10 years ago.

In addition, the number of new Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) issued was 5% lower than during the previous reporting year (4,434 compared with 4,647). The number of people subject to CTOs (5,365) as a proportion of all those subject to The Act at the end of the year has increased since their introduction to 'level off' at around 23% from March 2013 onwards. This compares to 17% back in March 2010, after CTOs had been available for a year.

A snapshot count taken on 31 March showed that on that date:

23,500 people were subject to the Mental Health Act, of which 18,200 were detained in hospital and 5,400 were being treated in the community on CTOs

The rate of people detained was 33.7 per 100,000 population – an increase from 31.8 on 31 March 2013 and 28.0 on 31 March 2004

The rate of people subject to a CTO increased from 9.8 per 100,000 population on 31 March 2013 to 10.0 on 31 March 2014.

Kingsley Manning, chair of the HSCIC, said: “Today’s report shows that Place of Safety Orders are being used over 400 times each week to take people to a hospital or a police station. The report also highlights changes in how Place of Safety Orders are being used, showing a clear shift from police-based places of safety to hospital settings, which is useful information for mental health organisations and professionals.”

You can view the full report here