Section 136 of the Mental Health Act: a new literature review

Borschmann, R D, Gillard, S, Turner, K, Chambers, M and O'Brien, A (2010) Section 136 of the Mental Health Act: a new literature review. Medicine, Science and the Law, 50(1), pp. 34-39. ISSN (print) 0025-8024


Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (amended) provides police officers in the United Kingdom with the authority to remove individuals who appear to be suffering from a mental illness from any public place to a designated 'place of safety' for appropriate assessment. A considerable amount of research has been dedicated to investigate who is detained under this section and how it is implemented. A review of the literature revealed a high prevalence of schizophrenia, personality disorders and mania in individuals detained under Section 136 and an over-representation of black detainees. Several studies also reported poor communication between different agencies and poor levels of knowledge regarding the implementation of the section. There is a lack of qualitative research exploring detainee and professional experience of Section 136 and in particular the patient pathway to mental health care via Section 136 experienced by black detainees. Implications for clinical practice, multi-agency collaboration and future research are discussed.

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