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Call for North Yorkshire safe unit for people with mental health problems
LIVES in North Yorkshire are being put at risk by the lack of a safe unit for people with mental health problems.
North Yorkshire is the only area in the country without a designated “place of safety” unit for police to take mentally ill people in need of immediate care, putting lives at risk and increasing the risk of a death in custody, a meeting has heard.
Instead of being taken to the dedicated unit, many people are detained in police cells.
Delays in setting up the NHS unit, planned for Bootham Park Hospital, has created a “serious high risk problem”, police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan said.
Tim Madgwick, temporary Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, said that over the weekend three vulnerable people in North Yorkshire apparently committed suicide.
He said: “We are carrying risk every day. I don’t think it’s right my staff are in this position as non professionals.”
Ms Mulligan also referred to the case of York mum-of-one Toni Emma Speck, of Huntington, who died in June 2011 after being detained under the Mental Health Act.
Ms Speck was taken from Bootham to Fulford Road police station, but died after collapsing in her cell.
The lack of such an NHS unit has been branded as “criminal” by Kersten England, the chief executive of City of York Council, who said there was an “insufficient response to mental health” in North Yorkshire.
Speaking at the shadow health and wellbeing board, Mrs England said: “I’m vexed. We are the only police service area in the country without a safe place.
“We urgently need to commission a place of safety. It’s something better than putting someone in a police van and transporting them around North Yorkshire.
“I think it’s criminal we have not had such a provision here.”
The law states people with mental health problems should be taken to a place of safety unit and only taken to a police station as a last resort.
The lack of such a unit in our region was discussed by police, council and NHS leaders at the meeting, which heard police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan and Mr Madgwick discuss the draft of the Police and Crime Plan.
A spokesman for Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said a place of safety unit was planned for Bootham Park Hospital and said it was working with NHS North Yorkshire and York to get work commissioned.
He said the trust was actively working with commissioners to improve care.