Committee announces new inquiry into Policing and mental health

26 March 2014

The Home Affairs Committee is today announcing an inquiry into Policing and mental health.

The Committee would like to hear your views on Policing and Mental Health.

We would welcome any relevant views, but are particularly interested in hearing about:

  • What groups might have particular mental health needs when they come into contact with the police? For example, people with autism or Asperger’s syndrome
  • What impact does the policing of individuals with mental health problems have on front-line police resources?
  • What examples of best practice are there in effective working between the agencies responsible for mental health? And what have been the results for those who suffer mental health problems, the police and health care providers?
  • How have local initiatives, including the street triage pilots, improved effective working between mental health nurses and the police?
  • What improvements could be made to the training and guidance available to police staff that regularly come into contact those with mental health problems?
  • What more could be done to reduce the number of people who die or suffer serious injury during and immediately following police custody?
  • Should s136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 be reformed? And if so, how?

The Committee would welcome views on these and any other matters that may be relevant to the inquiry. Individuals should not feel obliged to address all the points above. We would particularly welcome responses from those who have experience in the front-line delivery of mental health care and policing.

Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

A lot of police time and resources are taken up responding to incidents involving people with mental health problems. A person experiencing a crisis might need to be taken to a Place of Safety using the s.136 of the Mental Health Act. They should be taken to a hospital or psychiatric facility, but in a third of cases they are taken to a police cell. The average length of time for detention in a police cell under s136 is ten hours, and often overnight. We can only imagine what it must be like for someone having suicidal thoughts or with a history of self harm to be locked in a police cell overnight. In many cases this is not the best care for the ill person and it is not the best use of police resources. In some cases, it can result in serious injury or death. The Committee wants to investigate what can be done to improve the use of police and mental healthcare resources, and reduce the number of people with mental health problems who find themselves in a police cell when they should be in a hospital.

Submitting written evidence

As part of a scheme to encourage paperless working and maximise efficiency, the Committee now utilises a web portal for the submission of written evidence. Written submissions for this inquiry should therefore be sent online via this web page:

The Committee invites written submissions on these issues by midday on Wednesday 7 May 2014.

Each submission should:
a) be no more than 3,000 words in length
b) be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible
c) have numbered paragraphs
d) include a declaration of interests.

Please note that:

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

The remit of the Home Affairs Committee is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Home Office and its associated public bodies. 

Image: iStockphoto 

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