Media Player

Current affairs. With police estimating that dealing with mental health patients takes up 25 percent of their time, Paul Kenyon discovers a world of self-harm and suicide attempts.

There is a crisis in police cells across the country, and it is not to do with crime, according to senior officers. The police say they regularly have to detain mental health patients who should be dealt with by psychiatric professionals. The problem is so bad that police estimate it takes twenty five per cent of their time.

With exclusive access to police custody, reporter Paul Kenyon discovers a world of self-harm and suicide attempts which is stretching police to their limits. But he also spends time in a mental health unit, where they say police are dealing with fewer mental health patients than they used to.

Nevertheless, one of the UK's most senior police officers tells Panorama that enough is enough: it is time the police refused to detain any at all, and got on with their job of tackling crime.

First shown: 9 Sep 2013 1 month left Duration 30 mins

Ways to watch and tools