A brand new assessment suite based in the mental health unit at Royal Bolton Hospital which will provide a ‘place of safety’ for vulnerable adults detained by the police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act was officially opened last week (13th March).
The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy opened the unit along with staff from Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust in an official event.
The 136 suite allows for the person to be detained for up to 72 hours in a suitable environment appropriate for their mental health needs. In the past there had been no option but to take these seriously ill patients to a custody suite or to the A+E department, even though they may have committed no offence at all and may not need interventions from the A+E team. The 136 suite allows for the person to receive professional care and necessary arrangements for their treatment.
Section 136 of the Mental Health Act allows a police officer to remove a person they think is mentally disordered and ‘in immediate need of care or control’ from a public place to a place of safety, in the interest of that person or for the protection of others.
The first 136 suite was launched in Nottingham and this facility has demonstrated that assessments are completed faster when carried out in the Mental Health Unit as well as providing a less intimidating environment.
Currently, police officers spend an estimated 15% to 25% of their time dealing with mental health problems - the equivalent of around 26,000 officers.
Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police said, “Working with mental health organisations like GMW has meant that we get the necessary, appropriate help for those who are in need of it. We have had great co-operation from all the staff at Bolton Hospital and the result is a better service for vulnerable people.
“Sometimes the presence of a uniformed officer with handcuffs and body armour has the potential to worsen a situation for those who are mentally unwell but having much needed facilities like 136 suites available, makes it a better process for all parties.
“1 in 4 people will encounter some kind of mental health problem in their lifetime and so it’s necessary to have provisions like the 136 suite in place so that we make sure people are properly cared for in the right environment.”