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Restrictions on Use of Police Cells as ‘Safe Places’


Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams


Proposals to place restrictions on use of police cells as ‘safe places’


The Home Office has announced plans to take forward legislation which will greatly restrict the circumstances when a police cell can be used.


Restrictions on use of Police Cells as ‘Safe Places’ will be introduced via changes to the Mental Health Act 1983, which will be made under the forthcoming Policing and Crime Bill.


They include:


  • banning police cells as a ‘place of safety’ for under-18s
  • creating regulations to limit the circumstances in which police cells can be used as a place of safety for adults
  • reducing the maximum duration of detention for the purposes of an assessment under the Act from 72 to 24 hours
  • widening the current definition of a place of safety to increase local capacity and flexibility
  • extending police officers’ powers to act quickly to detain and remove people experiencing a mental health crisis from any place other than a private dwelling (for which a warrant would still be required)
  • requiring police officers to consult health professionals before detaining someone under the Act’s provisions
  • clarifying that assessments under the Act can take place in a private dwelling.

The aim is that the change in legislation will end the practice of using police cells simply because there is no suitable alternative available.  Restrictions on use of Police Cells as ‘Safe Places’ will give much needed protection to the often vulnerable people who end up placed in police cells at their times of greatest need.


This means there is the potential of a civil remedy if a person is incorrectly placed in a police cell in the future.


You can read more about the above on the website.


If you have concerns about the way in which you, or a family member, have been detained by the police, then contact Forrest Williams on 01623 397200 for free initial advice.



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