First things first: this post is based on reports some social media sources I’m inclined to trust, including from a health journalist but it has NOT yet been confirmed with published materials from the Government. Once the Government publish something that confirms or refutes this, which they will potentially do on 19th March, I will either remove this disclaimer or remove / re-write the post as a whole.
We know the UK Government is introducing emergency legislation to the House of Commons which will temporarily change aspects of the Mental Health Act 1983, including some parts affecting the police. It’s all part of the COVID-19 response, in the Coronavirus Bill 2020. This short post summarises what appears to be coming on the police-MHA changes, based on what certain charity professionals and health journalists are reporting —
In no particular order of importance —
For what my view’s worth, this manly has resource implications for the police just around the extension of the timescales for s135/136 MHA provisions.
The fact that these other legal timescales (for things like s5) are being extended or abolished and the reduction in the need for two doctors’ medical recommendations to get someone ‘sectioned’ is a direct reflection of the fact we think it will be harder and harder to secure AMHPs, doctors and nurses to perform MHA functions within the existing timescales. Again, social media is giving rise to professionals saying exactly this, as their staff also succumb to illness and requirements to self-isolate.
Where it is hard to secure professionals for MHA functions, it has always been a contingency to remit or refer to the emergency system. I don’t see that changing and can only see it increasing as we move to greater social coercion for public health reasons.
I will revisit this post once more is known. Good luck, everyone!
Winner of the President’s Medal, the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Winner of the Mind Digital Media Award
All opinions expressed are my own – they do not represent the views of any organisation. (c) Michael Brown OBE, 2020
I try to keep this blog up to date, but inevitably over time, amendments to the law as well as court rulings and other findings from inquests and complaints processes mean it is difficult to ensure all the articles and pages remain current. Please ensure you check all legal issues in particular and take appropriate professional advice where necessary.
Government legislation website – http://www.legislation.gov.uk