People held under Mental Health Act to get alternative ‘place of safety’


Another new facility for people in Calderdale, Kirklees or Wakefield who may be experiencing mental distress is being opened on 13th October by South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust. The new Elmdale ward suite will help to decriminalise those held under Section136 of the Mental Health Act (1983) as a police station is no longer be the only designated place of safety for Section 136 assessments.

The new suite based on the Elmdale ward at The Dales Unit at Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax has been developed in partnership by local organisations including the Trust, West Yorkshire Police, the Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield PCTs and local authorities. It is the second facility for the area that has been opened; the first was opened in July by South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust at Fieldhead in Wakefield.

The facility enables the assessment of a person that the police believe to be suffering from a serious mental health problem and in need of immediate assessment. Before these new units were opened, the only Section 136 place of safety in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield where assessment could be carried out was a police cell. The new facilities now provide an alternative.

Section 136 can only be used by a police officer to remove a person who appears to be suffering from serious mental health problems and in need of immediate care or control from a public place. A Section 136 place of safety exists to enable the person to be assessed through examination by a doctor and interview by an approved social worker.

A person can be held in a place of safety for a maximum of 72 hours for assessment and then any arrangements can be made for their treatment or care, if required. The facility will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and will serve anyone from the Calderdale, Kirklees or Wakefield areas.

Hazel O’Hara, Chief Operating Officer at South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust said, "I am delighted that we are opening this second facility at The Dales unit in Halifax. These important facilities represent a very positive step for mental health provision in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. It enables more people to receive the care they need in an appropriate facility that is close to their home. By working closely with our partners, we are now able to provide the best possible service for people who are being held under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act."

On behalf of the partnership board who commissioned the new facility, Rob Webster, Chief Executive of Calderdale PCT said, "We are very pleased to work closely with our partners to improve services for local people and ensure there is a suitable and safe facility for use when it is needed. It means that local people will be properly assessed by a medical professional in an appropriate environment."

Assistant Chief Constable Jawaid Akhtar of West Yorkshire Police said, "It is fair to say that a police cell is not the most suitable place for a person who may have serious mental health issues. The facilities now available have been much needed. I am delighted that our officers will be able to take people there who have mental health issues and are in need of immediate care or control and it’s in the interests of that person or for the protection of the public. I welcome the opening of this new facility which we have developed together with our partners in the health service.”

People held under Mental Health Act to get alternative ‘place of safety’

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