Ideological shifts in mental health-care policy such as deinstitutionalisation have meant police have had to make decisions about the care of persons with a mental-health crisis. This study examines how police in five English counties respond to crisis calls when employing the powers afforded in section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983, and the effectiveness of the national Street Triage pilot scheme. Qualitative interviews with 30 police officers and mental-health nurses were collected as data sources. The analysis shows that police have previously struggled with the significant number of crisis calls, whilst also finding mental-health services inadequately sourced, leading to some detentions in police cells as alternatives to health-based places of safety. However, the scheme has made positive changes in alleviating these issues when mental-health nurses are co-located with police, highlighting the need to strengthen their partnership by facilitating the sharing of information, responsibilities and decision making in order to ensure police cells continue to be avoided as alternative places of safety.
Wondemaghen, M. (2021). Policing mental illness: Police use of section 136 – Perspectives from police and mental-health nurses. Medicine, Science and the Law, 61(4), 266-274. https://doi.org/10.1177/0025802421993363