York & North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire Police call for mental health unit

North Yorkshire Police has said it is concerned about the lack of a "place of safety" in the county for people taken into custody with mental health problems.

Under the Mental Health Act, police can detain somebody if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Most areas in the UK have specialist medical units, in North Yorkshire people are held in police cells.

NHS North Yorkshire and York said it was working to establish a unit.

The force said the use of cells was "not appropriate."

'Big concerns'

Assistant Chief Constable Iain Spittal claimed the county is the only one in the country without a place of safety unit.

He said: "We've been trying to work with the Primary Care Trust on this for a number of years on this.

"They have a statutory obligation to provide a place of safety and thus far have not been able to."

"One of my big concerns is actually the immediate access mental health trained professionals who are able to provide immediate support.

"Sometimes we have to use officers to physically restrain these people to stop them hurting themselves, when in a medical setting they may be able to be calmed easier."

The primary care trust NHS North Yorkshire and York said in a statement: "We understand the need for a facility of this kind and we have been working with other organisations in the area to try and establish one.

"The emerging Clinical Commissioning Groups across North Yorkshire are currently considering how they might provide this facility when they take over the responsibility for buying local health services early next year."

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