Figures published today by the BBC show that over the course of a year up to 4,500 people in mental health crisis in England and Wales were unlawfully held in police custody.
In a statement Adferiad Recovery said:
The use of police cells for the detention of people who have not committed a crime but are experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis is barbaric – but we should not blame the police for this. Failure to invest in appropriate support led to these situations and people who needed help have suffered as a consequence.
Adferiad Recovery’s members include those living with serious mental illness and their families and carers: they tell us that the police often provide the only guaranteed response in a crisis – but why are we relying upon the police to provide this help?
Adferiad Recovery’s Chair of Trustees and former Chief Constable of North Wales Police Clive Wolfendale commented, “During my 34 year career in policing I encountered many hundreds of at-risk individuals for whom a custody cell was completely the wrong solution; but there was no alternative. Now, Adferiad Recovery and other agencies in Wales have facilities to ensure such individuals – and the public – are better protected. We must now ensure that this type of supportive response is properly coordinated and funded”
Lianne Martynski, Head of Adferiad’s crisis services, said:
“We note these figures are now a few years old and we welcome the Welsh Government’s investment in the provision of alternative crisis services. We are involved in the delivery of crisis sanctuaries in Swansea and Llanelli offering a place of safety for people who do not need to be in contact with the police or mental health services but are experiencing a crisis in their lives. These services link closely with statutory mental health crisis teams who are then able to concentrate on those who need a specialist mental health intervention.
These sanctuaries can dramatically reduce the need for police, mental health teams or A+E involvement. This is surely a more appropriate way to help people in crisis.”