On 11 December 2017, significant amendments will come into force altering the power of the police to detain people who appear to be suffering from mental disorder. This blog post is intended to highlight the fact of the amendments, outline some key changes and point to sources of further information.
The relevant powers are currently contained in sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (“MHA”). Section 135 requires the grant of a warrant by a magistrate; s136 does not.
From 11 December 2017 there will be in force:
- amendments to ss135, 136 and 138;
- new regulations, namely the Mental Health Act 1983 (Places of Safety) Regulations 2017 (setting out circumstances in which a police station may be used as a place of safety; requirements when a police station is used as a place of safety; and persons to be consulted) (“the Places of Safety Regulations 2017”).
In ZH v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  EWCA Civ 69 the Court of Appeal found that the police had acted unlawfully, violated an autistic boy’s human rights and discriminated against him by not having proper regard to his condition.
In the second article for Police Professional by members of the Serjeants’ Inn Police Team Debra Powell and Susanna Rickard, argue that, in wake of recent cases, there needs to be clear guidance for joint working between police and health services for the care of people suffering from mental disorder.