Rethink Mental Illness response to Home Affairs Select Committee report

The Home Affairs Select Committee has today published a report, ‘Policing and mental health’, which says that NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups are failing to provide enough health-based places of safety for people going through a mental health crisis.

It also proposes amending the Mental Health Act 1983, so that police cells are no longer stated as a place of safety for those detained under section 136.

In response, Brian Dow, Director of External Affairs for Rethink Mental Illness, said:

“It’s scandalous that so many people going through a mental health crisis, including children, are being held in police cells because commissioners are failing to provide enough suitable ‘places of safety’.

“That is completely unacceptable – not only is it resulting in thousands of vulnerable people ending up in police custody, it’s also costing lives. Someone going through a physical health emergency would never be treated this way, so why should people going trough a mental health crisis have to put up with it?

“The select committee proposes changing the law so that police cells can no longer be used as a ‘place of safety’, but that alone won’t fix these problems. The reality is that we need much more funding for mental health services. Everyone should have safe and speedy access to quality crisis care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Local commissioners also need to put much more investment into preventative mental health care like early intervention services, which help recover from a first episode of mental illness. We urge commissioners to act on this report by ensuring that their community has the resources required to meet need, otherwise people with mental illness will continue to get a raw deal”.

To set up an interview with Brian Dow, please contact Brian Semple, News and Media Manager for Rethink Mental Illness, on 0207 840 3043 or

Notes to editors

Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness.

For over 40 years we have brought people together to support each other. We run services and support groups that change people’s lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness.

We directly support almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone.

We give information and advice to 500,000 more and we change policy for millions.

For more information go to

Brian Semple
News and Media Manager
020 7840 3043
Follow me on twitter @SempleSemple