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Stop locking up people with mental health problems - Cllr Lucy Care

December 5, 2014 5:51 PM
By Lucy Care - Parliamentary Spokesperson - Derby North
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Lucy CarePeople with mental health problems who haven't committed a crime should not be kept in police cells while awaiting treatment, Lucy Care said today.

Last year, 80 people in Derbyshire who suffered a mental health crisis were held in police cells.

They were locked up due to staff shortages or a lack of appropriate facilities.

But today Lucy Care has launched a local campaign to put an end to the use of police cells for people with mental health problems. She is calling on Derbyshire Constabulary to create an action plan to complying with new national standards for mental health crisis treatment.

Lucy Care said:

"It is shocking and upsetting that anyone experiencing mental health problems can be locked up in a police cell while awaiting treatment, instead of being taken to a health based safe place such as a hospital.

"I'm calling on Derbyshire Constabulary to take decisive steps to put an end to the use of police cells for those with mental health problems once and for all.

"The Police in each part of the country have been asked to sign up to a Crisis Care Concordat setting out mental health crisis treatment standards."

Liberal Democrat Health and Care Minister Norman Lamb explained why he is backing Lucy Care's campaign. He said: "I have made it my mission to help end the use of police cells for people suffering a mental health crisis. We are not there yet, but we are making real progress.

"Liberal Democrats are fighting for a fairer society where everyone is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve."

The Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat is a national agreement between services and agencies involved in the care and support of people in crisis. It sets out how organisations will work together better to make sure that people get the help they need when they are having a mental health crisis.

In February 2014, 22 national bodies involved in health, policing, social care, housing, local government and the third sector came together and signed the Crisis Care Concordat. It focuses on four main areas:

Access to support before crisis point•- making sure people with mental health problems can get help 24 hours a day and that when they ask for help, they are taken seriously.

  • Urgent and emergency access to crisis care•- making sure that a mental health crisis is treated with the same urgency as a physical health emergency.
  • Quality of treatment and care when in crisis•- making sure that people are treated with dignity and respect, in a therapeutic environment.
  • Recovery and staying well•- preventing future crises by making sure people are referred to appropriate services.

You can find out more about the Concordat here:

The Liberal Democrats have enshrined in law the equal status of mental and physical health in the Health and Social Care Act 2012 as we believe mental health should not be ignored or stigmatised.

It should be taken as seriously as physical health.

We are using £400 million to help people with mental health problems get the right support early on, such as talking or psychological therapies. We are also introducing waiting limits, so people will know for the first time how long they have to wait for mental health treatment.

Our new mental health action plan sets out our priorities for essential change in mental health, including:

  • Crisis Care Concordat: Making sure no one experiencing mental health crisis is ever turned away from services.
  • Choice in Mental Health: Giving people the same choice for their mental healthcare as they do for their physical health.
  • Liaison and Diversion: Committed £25m for a scheme that identifies health issues of offenders when they enter the criminal justice system.
  • Restraint: Investing £1.2m in staff training in order to reduce harmful restrictive practices.
  • IAPT: Investing over £400m to give thousands of people access to evidence-based psychological therapies.
  • Children's mental health: Investing £54m in order to improve access to mental health care for children.
  • Time to Change: Funding the Time to Change campaign, which challenges mental health stigma and discrimination.