Compulsorily Detained Mental Patients: Children:Written question - 21299

Asked on: 06 January 2016
Home Office
Compulsorily Detained Mental Patients: Children
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for how long people under the age of 18 who were transferred to a place of safety under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 were detained on average in (a) a police cell and (b) a police vehicle in England and Wales in each of the last 10 years.
Answered by: Mike Penning
Answered on: 13 January 2016

The information requested is not held centrally.

However, the use of police cells as a place of safety for all persons detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 has more than halved since 2011/12 (when figures were first collated) as shown in the following table. A joint inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC); Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP); the Care Quality Commission (CQC); and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) (published in 2013) found that the average time that each such person spent in police custody was 10 hours 32 minutes.

The Government intends to make provision in the Policing and Crime Bill, to be introduced in Parliament soon, to prohibit the use of police cells as places of safety for people under the age of 18, and to further limit their use in the case of adults. The maximum period for which a person may be detained pending a mental health assessment will also be reduced.

Table 1: number of times a police station was used as a place of safety for people detained under Section 136 Mental Health Act 1983 (England only)


Section 136 detentions in police stations

Percentage reduction year on year (to nearest whole number)













Source: Health and Social Care Information Centre

[1] No data on use of police stations is available for 2010-11.

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