Under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, an individual can be detained for up to 72 hours if they are in mental health crisis and the police believe them to be in immediate need of care for their own , or another person’s, safety.
The suite, run by the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley’s NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), has been made possible through a partnership with NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG (which is funding the service), North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire County Council and Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
Police will contact the Place of Safety in advance, providing details of the individual detained and their symptoms, before bringing them to the suite where a rapid medical assessment by a mental health professional will allow arrangements to be made quickly for the individual’s treatment and care. This means police officers are free to continue with their work in a timely manner.
It is the fourth such service to be opened in the North Yorkshire area with other Place of Safety suites already successfully operating in Northallerton, York and Scarborough. The new service will not only enable officers to continue with their duties but will significantly reduce the likelihood of individuals with mental health problems in the Harrogate area being inappropriately detained in police custody.
Patrick Scott, head of service, adult mental health and substance misuse, North Yorkshire said:
The suite provides vulnerable people with the opportunity to have their mental health needs assessed in a suitable health environment. Previously these people would have been detained in a custody suite, even if they had not committed a crime.
Health professionals work together to assess a patient and arrange appropriate care and treatment where necessary. This opportunity has also allowed us to develop further partnership working with police, county council, ambulance services, etc, to ensure every individual is cared for in the best possible way.
Dr Rick Sweeney, GP and Governing Body Member at NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG said:
We have been committed to establishing a place of safety in our area since we became responsible for commissioning health services in Harrogate and Rural District.
The opening of the suite is an excellent demonstration of organisations working together to provide high quality services for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick of North Yorkshire Police, said:
The opening of a health-based place of safety for Harrogate is very welcome news.
Police cells are no place for people who are suffering from a mental health crisis, nor are police officers mental health specialists. It is vitally important that anyone who is in such a situation receives the appropriate care and support when they are at their most vulnerable.
Working together with the NHS and other agencies, we have made huge advances over the past 18 months and now have four places of safety across the North Yorkshire Police area.
However, there is still much more to do. Our work with partner agencies will continue until we reach our aim for 2016 that no detainees should be held in police cells if their reason for being arrested is purely on mental health grounds.