Police frustration over lack of a ‘place of safety’ detainees with mental health problems (From York Press)
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Police frustration over lack of a ‘place of safety’ detainees with mental health problems
POLICE and health chiefs have vented their frustration at the continuing lack of a place of safety for people who are detained with mental health problems in York.
North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said it was “disgraceful” the county did not have such a facility but was pleased there was a commitment by GPs and the NHS to take action.
North Yorkshire is the only county in the UK not to have a place of safety which would allow police to remove people with apparent mental health issues from public places for up to 72 hours.
However, approval was granted in July to create a £400,000-per-year facility at Bootham Park Hospital this autumn. It has yet to be opened.
Mrs Mulligan, who was elected to the role in November last year, said: “It is disgraceful that North Yorkshire is the only place in the country currently not to have such a vital facility.
“I am therefore very pleased that together GPs and the NHS have finally committed to do the right thing in providing this help for very vulnerable people; many of whom are currently exposed to unacceptable levels of risk and distress.”
Although the facilities are still expected to be in place by the end of the year, the delay has left City of York Council “frustrated”, according to the authority’s director of health and wellbeing.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones said: “City of York Council recognises we are working in a complex environment with many partner organisations but every day that the city of York continues to be without an appropriate place of safety even more of our residents will have to be detained in a police cell unnecessarily.
“City of York Council is frustrated by the length of time it is taking to receive confirmation from the key organisations of the opening date for the Section 136 Suite, but acknowledges the importance of ensuring all elements of the process are absolutely right.”
Approval for the new Section 136 unit, which will staffed by nurses and a doctor, was granted by the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group.
Section 136 gives police officers the authority to remove a person with an apparent mental disorder from a public place to a “place of safety” for up to 72 hours.
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