Lack of mental health beds sees teenager left in police custody

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Update: It has been reprted this evening that the girl is to be moved somewhere more appropriate in the area.

At around 8.00pm on Thursday 27th November a 16 year old girl was arrested at Torbay District Hospital following an alleged assault and breach of the peace.

She was taken into custody at Torquay Police Station and detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

Following a mental health assessment it was decided that the girl should be detained under Section 3 Mental Health Act, at a secure mental health establishment for treatment and care.

At this time no appropriate accommodation has been identified for her anywhere in the Country.

As a result mental health nurses are currently supervising her at Torquay Custody Centre.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton commented, “Clearly a police custody centre is not appropriate accommodation for a young mental health client who requires professional mental health care.

“The situation is unacceptable, a young girl would not be detained for this amount of time in respect of a criminal matter.

“Being locked in a police cell could potentially exacerbate mental health issues and individuals should only be detained by police in exceptional circumstances for as short a time as possible.

“This is causing disruption to the normal running of the custody centre and reducing its usual prisoner capacity.

“We are working hard with our NHS partners to resolve this matter satisfactorily as soon as possible”.

We would wish to correct any inference that may have been caused, that highlighting the current lack of mental health bed provision in the Country also includes Wales.The current mental health bed provision is a matter for NHS England.

The force has for sometime expressed concern as to the number of Section 136 clients being held in police cells.

In this year alone over 700 clients have been held in custody centres within Devon & Cornwall and for the previous year the number totalled 800.

 

(Author)

Team account for We Are South Devon.