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New 'Place of Safety' Opens in York

Julia Mulligan

8:55am 3rd February 2014
(Updated 9:08am 3rd February 2014)

A new Place of Safety which allows police to detain someone with mental health issues without putting them in a police cell opens in York today.

It is based at Bootham Hospital and is the second to open in North Yorkshire after a unit opened in Scarborough last month. Before the Scarborough centre opened, North Yorkshire was the only county in the UK without one.

A Place of Safety is somewhere a person can be detained for up to 72 hours if they are in mental health crisis and the police believe them to be in immediate need of care for the sake of their own, or another person’s, safety. Until now the police had no option but to take these people to a custody suite, even though they may not have committed an offence.

Someone can be detained for up to 72 hours in the Section 136 Place of Safety while medical assessments take place and arrangements are made for their treatment and care.

A Place of Safety has to meet strict criteria in terms of staffing, facilities and policy. Under certain circumstances, police custody suites or A&E department can be used as a Place of Safety. However, a health-based Place of Safety linked to mental health services should be available.

Police Commissioner for North Yorkshire Julia Mulligan, said:

“Ensuring North Yorkshire has a health based place of safety has been a top priority for me since being elected. 

I welcome the opening of this facility in York, which will finally give the professional support these patients need.  Victims need to be at the centre of everything we do, which is why this place of safety was desperately needed in York.  For too long the police have been relied upon to look after detainees in custody suites, which was entirely inappropriate, as well as being resource intensive.

I thank the CCGs for finally making this happen, but we will have to wait and see whether there is enough capacity to support the needs of the community in York.  With only one bed available, I need to be convinced that capacity at the facility is sufficient.  With approximately 30 detainees per month across North Yorkshire, sometimes being admitted in clusters, I will be closely monitoring the situation.”

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