York & North Yorkshire

'Places of safety' plan for mental health patients

People detained by police under the Mental Health Act in North Yorkshire will no longer be held in cells.

Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said the county's first "place of safety" for patients would open in Scarborough in October.

The facility, to be run by healthcare professionals, will provide a secure "hospital environment", said the PCC.

The county is thought to be the only one in England not to have such a unit.

According to figures from the PCC, 426 people were detained by police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act in North Yorkshire last year.

Charity 'overjoyed'

Ms Mulligan, North Yorkshire's PCC, said the current system meant people were being "exposed to unacceptable levels of risk and distress".

"We do have quite a lot of people in cells… who should be in hospital," she said.

The new "places of safety" would mean people being held by police under the Mental Health Act could be treated quickly by health professionals in hospital, Ms Mulligan said.

Under the current system, some patients were being held in police cells for up to 24 hours without the necessary care, she added.

David Smith, the chief executive of the mental health charity York Mind, said he was "overjoyed" at the planned introduction of "places of safety" but was worried about a lack of detail in the proposal.

A further two "places of safety" are planned to open in North Yorkshire before April next year.

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