A push to highlight the “scandal” of people suffering with mental health issues being held in police custody has been launched by a regional daily.
The Plymouth Herald’s Safer Spaces campaign aims to reduce the problem after more than 200 people in the city were detained in cells under Section 135 or 136 of the Mental Health Act last year.
Plymouth currently has a 24-hour purpose-built acute mental health unit, but it can only cater for one person at a time.
If the suite is in use, the next best ‘place of safety’ for them to be held is a police station cell.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the House of Commons home affairs committee, has called for the law to be changed on the detention of people suffering form mental health issues.
Herald senior reporter Sam Blackledge explained the campaign, which was launched yesterday.
He said: “Last year more than 200 people were held in police custody in Plymouth having been detained under Section 135 or 136 of the Mental Health Act, a number which is only falling by a few dozen each year.
“One of the reasons this is happening is that the Glenbourne facility, an acute mental health hospital unit, can only cater for one person at a time. If the suite is in use, the next best ‘place of safety’ is a cell at the city’s police station.
“In a city of about 250,000 residents, the idea that only one at a time can have access to the help they need, while the others must wait behind bars, is nothing short of a scandal.
“The detention of mentally ill people in police cells cannot go on. We hope our readers and those in positions of power will support this vital campaign.”