What is a Section 136 of the Mental Health Act?
Section 136 gives the police the power to remove a person from a public place, when they appear to be suffering from a mental disorder, to a place of safety. The person will be deemed by the police to be in immediate need of care and control as their behaviour is of concern. It is important to point out that a person is not under arrest when the decision is made to remove the person to a place of safety. The police power is to facilitate assessment of their health and wellbeing as well as the safety of other people around them.
What is the role of the Police in a Section 136?
Section 136 gives the police power to remove someone from a public place to a place of safety. There is not an application process so we can look at the interests of their mental health and wellbeing.
What happens when someone is detained on a Section 136?
When the person arrives at the designated place of safety they will be greeted by the nurse in charge of the unit and an assessment under Section 136 is co-ordinated. The police will complete a form to provide details of the circumstances leading up to their decision to remove the person on a Section 136. The police and the health and social care professionals will make a mutual decision about possible risks to determine whether the police remain in attendance for the duration of the assessment. The person will then be assessed by the Approved Mental Health Practitioner and an approved Doctor. The Section 136 power ends once the assessment process has been completed and a decision has been reached by Health and Social Care professionals as to whether the person requires further assessment or treatment or whether they can be discharged.
What is a place of Safety?
Most often the place of safety will be on a Mental Health Unit or at the Accident and Emergency Department. As a last resort and if the person is presenting as a risk to other people the police station can be used as a place of safety. The place of safety can change if the person’s presentation changes. For example if the person is deemed to have an urgent physical requirement at the time of assessment they could be transferred to the Accident and Emergency Department.
How long does a Section 136 last?
A person can be detained on a Section 136 for up to 72 hours to facilitate the assessment and any necessary arrangements for their care or treatment. This may include support from the Community Mental Health team, admission into hospital or discharge to the care of their General Practitioner.
What rights does someone on a Section 136 have?
The person has the right to receive information in a way they understand. This may include making arrangements for an interpreter to support assessment. If a person is assessed and then admitted to hospital formally under another section of the Mental Health Act they would have the right to an Independent Mental Health Advocate and the right to appeal to the Tribunal and Hospital Managers.