This site is intended for health professionals only

Lack of places for mental health crisis teens “worrying”


16 April 2014

Share this story:
A new map highlights "worrying" restrictions in access to health-based places of safety for young people experiencing a mental health crisis.
Released by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) the map shows the locations of all 161 health-based places of safety in England and gives details of opening times, the areas they serve, their capacity, and the age groups they accept.
CQC found that 56 (35%) of the 161 health-based places of safety do not accept young people under the age of 16. 

A new map highlights "worrying" restrictions in access to health-based places of safety for young people experiencing a mental health crisis.
Released by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) the map shows the locations of all 161 health-based places of safety in England and gives details of opening times, the areas they serve, their capacity, and the age groups they accept.
CQC found that 56 (35%) of the 161 health-based places of safety do not accept young people under the age of 16. 
The independent regulator claims this has resulted in a lack of access for under 16s in 33 of 152 upper tier local authority areas (22%). 
Thirteen NHS mental health trusts (of 56 surveyed) and two community interest companies restrict access for young people under the age of 16 at all of their places of safety.
People who have been detained by the police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act must be taken immediately to a safe place where a mental health assessment can be undertaken. 
This should be a ‘health-based place of safety’, located in a mental health hospital or an emergency department at a general hospital. They should only be taken to a police station in exceptional circumstances.
Yet in 2012/13, there were 21,814 reported uses of Section 136, of which 7,761 involved the use of a police cell. CQC found that some of the most common reasons for the use of police custody related to the unavailability of health-based places of safety because there were not enough staff or beds.
Figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers estimate that, in 2012/13, 580 children and young people under the age of 18 were detained under Section 136. Of those, it is estimated that 263 (45%) were taken to police custody. 
CQC believes that the restrictions on access for young people to health-based places of safety in some areas are a key reason for this.
Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals (lead for mental health) said: "The Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat states that a local health-based place of safety should be available for young people who are in crisis. Young people should be able to use this facility even if it is attached to an adult ward. They should certainly not be taken to police stations routinely.
“We are calling on those providers that restrict access to health-based places of safety for young people to review their local protocols and to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place."
Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, said: Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, said: “When someone is in mental health crisis, it is very important that a health-based place of safety is available. That is why we set out plans for this map in our Crisis Care Concordat.
“It is unacceptable for a child in a mental health crisis to be taken to a police cell because there is no health-based place of safety. Our Crisis Care Concordat reinforces the duty on the NHS to make sure that people under 18 are treated in an environment suitable for their age, according to their needs.
“Whilst there has been a welcome decline in the use of police settings as places of safety over the past couple of years, this is still not as rapid a fall as we would like.
“It is imperative that all areas implement the principles of the Concordat as quickly as possible to make sure good crisis care is available, no matter what your age or where you live.”
The map is available to view on the CQC website

Want news like this straight to your inbox?

Related news


Practices to get £30m to improve long Covid diagnosis and care
GP practices will receive £30m to improve diagnosis and care for patients with long Covid...
People in deprived areas three times more likely to report vaccine hesitancy
Adults living in the most deprived areas of England were more than three times as...