Section 136

This is the Section most commonly encountered in the Emergency Department (ED).  People may already be detained under Section 136 on arrival at the ED or, in some cases, may be detained under Section 136 after they have arrived.  This part of the Act has been revised recently and several changes have been made.

Probably the most important of these changes is the length of detention, which has been reduced from 72 to 24 hours with a possible extension of 12 hours in some circumstances.  The clock starts on arrival in the ED or other Place of Safety (PoS), so it is very important that this time is recorded accurately and passed on should the patient then be transferred to another PoS.

Mental Health Act 1983 (revised 2017), Section 136

  • (1)If a person appears to a constable to be suffering from mental disorder and to be in immediate need of care or control, the constable may, if he thinks it necessary to do so in the interests of that person or for the protection of other persons-
    • (a)remove the person to a place of safety within the meaning of section 135, or
    • (b)if the person is already at a place of safety within the meaning of that section, keep the person at that place or remove the person to another place of safety.
  • (1A)The power of a constable under subsection (1) may be exercised where the mentally disordered person is at any place, other than-
    • (a)any house, flat or room where that person, or any other person, is living, or
    • (b)any yard, garden, garage or outhouse that is used in connection with the house, flat or room, other than one that is also used in connection with one or more other houses, flats or rooms.
  • The patient can be detained for up to 24 hours but should be assessed by a medical practitioner and by a specialist mental health practitioner as soon as possible, and should have a formal Mental Health Act assessment as soon as is feasible.
  • If there is any concern that the patient may have physical injuries or physical health problems, they should in the first instance be reviewed in the ED.
  • When confirmed medically fit, they should be transferred as quickly as possible to a suitable PoS.
  • Note: just because a patient is in ED with police officers doesn’t necessarily mean that they are currently detained under any Section of the MHA; there are many other circumstances where Police may escort to someone to the ED.

However, anyone detained under Section 136, is the responsibility of the police. If you allow the police officers to leave, the individual becomes the responsibility of the person who gave consent for the police to leave.

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