Labour leader Ed Miliband has backed a regional daily’s campaign to highlight the issue of mentally ill people being held in police cells.
Mr Miliband has lent his support to the Plymouth Herald’s drive 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 meaning many end up being housed at the next best “place of safety” – a police cell.
Mr Miliband, pictured below, became aware of the campaign after being contacted by the Herald.
He said: “I welcome the Plymouth Herald’s campaign, which raises an incredibly important debate about the treatment of mentally ill people within the criminal justice system.
“Mental health is the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age – we must take action to improve mental health provision in the NHS and across society.”
Herald editor Paul Burton welcomed Mr Miliband’s support for the campaign, which was launched a fortnight ago.
He said: “We are delighted the Safer Spaces campaign has come to the attention of Ed Miliband and other high profile MPs, and we hope this will go some way towards raising awareness and improving mental health care in Plymouth and across the country.”
“While it’s encouraging to have the campaign backed by such a high profile political figure, Safer Spaces has revealed one core fact – the issue of improving services for mental wellbeing has cross-party support no matter the colour of the rosette.
“Whomever wins this May, they must shoulder a responsibility to help some of the most vulnerable in modern Britain.”