Police Superintendents disappointed that Mental Health Joint Inspection Report does not go further

Thursday, 20 June, 2013


The President of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales (PSAEW) has expressed her disappointment that the recommendations in a joint inspection report in relation to the detention of individuals for mental health assessment in police custody suites don’t go far enough.

Whilst welcoming the report that is published today by HM Inspectorates of Constabulary and Prisons, the Care Quality Commission, and the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis feels that an opportunity has been missed to put an end to the practice of the regular use of police cells as a ‘place of safety’ for people who are suspected of suffering from a mental disorder but not of committing a criminal offence.

Chief Superintendent Curtis commented, “In 2008 the Independent Police Complaints Commission highlighted their concerns about this very issue and made a number of recommendations to reduce the number of occasions on which this occurred. We’re now five years on and this report demonstrates that the use of police cells as a place of safety still happens far too frequently.”

She added, “Whilst the recommendations in this report, if implemented, will lead to improvements in the care of persons believed to be suffering from mental illness, I would like to see a change in legislation happening sooner rather than later – the time for action on this issue is now.”

“Stopping the use of police custody as a place of safety would prevent people who are mentally ill from suffering further distress as a consequence of being unnecessarily detained in police cells, and could also help to prevent further deaths in police custody. I accept that this will place further pressure on health trusts but the priority in such cases must be the individuals who are in need of assessment.”

Return to news menu