Changes to the police powers and places of safety provisions in the Mental Health Act 1983


Here is a summary of changes to the police powers and places of safety provisions in the Mental Health Act 1983 made by the Policing and Crime Act 2017. These changes come into force on 11 December 2017.

    1. S136 may now be exercised anywhere other than private dwelling
      • Or in any yard, garden, garage etc connected to the dwelling
      • It does not have to be that person’s dwelling
      • Can be exercised: railway lines, hospital wards, rooftops of commercial buildings, police stations, offices, schools, gardens and car parks associated with communal residential property
      • Police can enter by force if necessary
      • Police do not have to ‘find’ the person- can be following a call or respond to an incident
    2. Unlawful to use police station as place of safety for anyone under 18- no exceptions
      • Total ban
    3. Police station only used as place of safety for adults in specific circumstances
      • Behaviour of person poses imminent risk of serious injury or death to themselves or others
      • Because of that risk no other place of safety can reasonably be expected to detain them
      • So far as is practicable a healthcare professional will be present at police station and available to them
      • Must have consultation on the use of a police station as a place of safety
      • Must have the authority of a police officer of rank of at least inspector
    4. Maximum period of detention reduced from 72 hours to 24 hours (unless doctor certifies extension of 12h is necessary to carry out assessment)
      • A delay in attendance by an AMHP or medical practitioner is not a valid reason for extending detention
      • If police station used as place of safety welfare must be checked by health care professional at least once every 30 minutes
      • Officer must review at least hourly whether the circumstances which warrant the  use of a police station still exist- if not  person must be taken to another place of safety
      • If person escapes (s138)- this also reduced to 24hours
    5. Before using s136 police officer must where practicable consult one of health professionals listed in s136(1c)
      • AMHP, registered nurse, registered medical practitioner, OT, paramedic
      • Should ensure that consultation is recorded
      • Up for police officer to consider whether or not consultation is practicable in specific circumstances.  
    6. Person subject to s135 or s136 can be kept, as well as removed to, a place of safety.
    7. New search power allows police officers to search person subject to s135/136 for protective purposes
      • No restrictions regarding age
      • Limited to actions reasonably required to discover an item that officer believes that person has or may be concealing
      • Can only remove outer clothing
      • No intimate search





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