A NEW centre which caters for people with mental health problems has officially opened in York.

The place of safety was opened yesterday at Bootham Hospital, and will care for people with mental health issues who are taken off the streets by police, rather than have them placed in cells.

This is the second Section 136 unit in North Yorkshire, which has been funded with £400,000 from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), following the opening of the first unit in Scarborough Hospital last week, and will provide round-the-clock care from health professionals.

Jill Copeland, chief operating officer at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said the centre provided “safe and dignified care for people with mental health problems who are detained by the police”.

But concerns were raised by Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, who said the room at the centre may not be enough for demand.

She said: “Victims need to be at the centre of everything we do, which is why this place of safety was desperately needed in York.

“For too long the police have been relied upon to look after detainees in custody suites, which was entirely inappropriate, as well as being resource-intensive.

“I thank the CCGs for finally making this happen, but we will have to wait and see whether there is enough capacity to support the needs of the community in York.

“With only one bed available, I need to be convinced that capacity at the facility is sufficient.

“With approximately 30 detainees per month across North Yorkshire, sometimes being admitted in clusters, I will be closely monitoring the situation.”

The facility was expected to open before Christmas, but Professor Alan Maynard, chairman of the CCG said delays had been caused by “planning and building setbacks that often come with the refurbishment of a listed building”.