Hundreds detained in mental health crisis - but figure falls

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Hundreds of people - including a handful of children - have been locked up in police cells on mental health grounds, the YEP can reveal.

More than 3,000 people have been detained by West Yorkshire Police under the Mental Health Act since 2013, data obtained from a Freedom of Information request shows.

Though the numbers are falling year-on-year, almost 20 young people with mental health issues were detained by police in the three-year period.

It comes as the YEP is calling for people to help combat stigma surrounding mental health, as part of our #SpeakYourMind campaign.

Under the Mental Health Act, officers have powers to take people they suspect of being mentally disturbed, who could be a danger to themselves or others, to be assessed by doctors at a place of safety.

Since signing the Department of Health’s Crisis Care Concordat policy in 2014, the NHS has introduced Place of Safety suites in Leeds, where people can be taken as an alternative to police stations.

The number of people held in cells for 2015-16 was 151, compared to 464 for 2013-14.

Does Leeds need more Place of Safety suites for people in crises? Click here to join the debate on the YEP facebook page

Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams said: “A police cell is not the appropriate place for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis and we are working closely with partners to ensure people of any age receive appropriate urgent and emergency access to crisis care.

“We have reduced the use of police cells for people solely experiencing mental health crisis by 67 per cent between 2013 and 2016 and want to cut this number further.”

In 2015-16, the figures show that a total of 1,238 people were detained by police in mental health crisis. Of those detained, 151 were taken into police custody, including four children.

In Leeds, the NHS opened a Place of Safety for children and young people with mental health issues as an alternative to police custody.

Helen Kemp, chief executive of Leeds Mind mental health charity that backed the YEP’s campaign, said: “It is encouraging to see less people, in particular children, are being detained for mental health reasons.

“One in four people experience mental health difficulties at some point in their lives, so the more we do to help combat stigma and raise awareness the better.”


The YEP launched our #SpeakYourMind campaign in October 2016.

And as part of the campaign, people can pledge their support by using the hashtag #SpeakYourMind on social media.

We want to raise awareness, so share your experiences and views about mental health with us.

You can get involved by using the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and social media or email If you need to talk to someone in confidence about issues, Leeds’s Samaritans free support service can help on 116 123.