Mental health patients looking for medical aid end up being inside the cells, under the custody of the police. They stay there until a bed is found for them. As per the reports, in England and Wales, there were up to 4500 people in mental health crisis who were unlawfully held in the custody of police because of a lack of hospital beds. Ministers have made this pretty clear that police cells should not be used as a safe place for patients. Despite the strict restrictions this still goes on all over the world, because there is no other way best suited for this situation. Police officers are even being trained to better serve people who are in a mental health crisis which is called mental health first aid. There have been lectures and discussions which are focused on these issues.

Annette Marshall tells that her 15-year-old son attempted to take away her life twice, but she insists that he is not a criminal or a killer. He is a person who is going through an extreme mental health crisis. When she called the police, her son was arrested even when she did not want them to do it and stayed in custody till the police were not able to find her son a bed. Annette stayed in custody for three and a half days after his arrest. Police had been working on finding local health and social care services so that they can find the best place for him where he finds the appropriate care and treatment that he requires. This disturbed her mother profoundly as her son had no reason to be in the lock-up. Another case in which a pregnant woman was found holding a knife to her stomach was arrested and was put in handcuffs and was kept in the custody for 72 hours under the surveillance of the police because there was no available space for her. It was draining for the offices as well as they had to call on people every 10-12 hours so there was a different officer with her all the time. Lack of beds is a major problem leading to patients of mental health crisis ending up in police custody without any criminal offense.

According to the mental health act of 2018, those arrested having mental health crises should be detained and sent to places where they are provided with the help that they are in need. This law put significant pressure on the system of criminal justice where police spend a lot of time responding to incidents that are related to mental health. The police showed their own concern but told that if they do not take the required action for a person in crisis for the safety of the public's well-being. They admit it openly that they do not want to keep them unlawfully in the police cell but they do not have any better option than that until they find a bed which takes time and if they don't do that, they are still criticized so they too are stuck in this situation.

The major problem that was highlighted in these cases was the lack of beds for mental patients and also mental health professionals to make final assessments. The police officers want more clarity regarding the mental health laws in relation to the criminal department as it is vital for them to be clear about the procedure of such patients.


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