Quick Guide – Mental Health Crisis in Private Premises

  • In private dwellings, the police service in the UK have no powers to utilise mental health law to resolve a mental health crisis.
  • They obviously do retain powers to arrest for criminal offences or for a breach of the peace and to force entry in order to do so.
  • There is no power to force entry per se without a warrant in order to manage a mental health crisis, unless there is a criminal offence or a breach of the peace.
  • Obviously there are powers to force entry “to save life or limb”.
  • The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (England / Wales) and the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 are of only limited capacity in private dwellings – where there are imminent risks involving people who lack capacity.
  • Take immediate action, if deemed necessary under criminal law, (incapacity law) or common law (BoP) to ensure immediate safety and security.
  • Once done or should that not be appropriate, call an ambulance to the scene.
  • Consider sources of information, including the patient themselves, to establish professionals connected to ongoing care, if any;
  • Consider relatives or friends who could be called to assist and support the person.
  • Consider a capacity assessment – like the CURE test – but defer this to any health and social care professional who is made available / accessible to the incident.
  • Make a decision of whether it is possible or necessary to effect a coercive intervention
  • Having called an ambulance, consider calling one or more of the following sources of intervention, support if it is felt that follow up mental health care is necessary:
  • Mental Health Crisis Team
  • General Practitioner
  • Duty AMHP from the local authority or via the Crisis Team.
  • Ensure referral for safeguarding to the appropriate authority.
  • There are no powers for police officers to act under the Mental Health Act in private premises.
  • There is no ability to stop people moving around their own home, accessing rooms or locking them, leaving the premises or picking up items within the premises which could be potentially harmful to them or others: UNLESS
  • It constitutes a criminal offence or a breach of the peace.
  • Article 8 of the European Convention is of application to people’s right to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions.
  • Parliament intended the coercive response to mental health crisis in private – except where there are imminent, life-threatening risks – to be an AMHP and DR (or MHO and DR) undertaking assessment for urgent admission under law.

One thought on “Quick Guide – Mental Health Crisis in Private Premises

  1. Could I throw in a question/consideration please? It sort of relates to:

    “Consider sources of information, including the patient themselves, to establish professionals connected to ongoing care, if any”.

    From the point if view of a MH service user who has had much recent contact with police, there is one issue that keeps popping up for the officers dealing with me… Namely, refusal to attend A&E for mental health assessment.
    Reaons are that I feel I cannot cope with the wait in A&E (average 4-6hrs, sometimes significantly longer) and as the end result is invariably being sent home with the crisis team’s phone number (which I already have) it’s utterly pointless. It actually makes things worse as I’m basically in the same position just several hours later, with the added indignity of attending A&E with cops. (though they are usually very nice!)

    I know you’ve written about powers for police to remove someone to a place of safety, and mental incapacity – but I’m talking about people who are suicidal/very emotionally distressed who know full well they need help but know equally well they will not find it at hospital. Mental health workers definitely fall on the side of “being suicidal is not grounds for incapacity”, though most police officers I have met in these circumstances (understandably) use this power anyway.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that it may be better for the person NOT to attend A&E, although I suppose it gets complicated around responsibility if something happens. Once someone’s been assessed, even if overall it makes things worse for them, the (potential) finger of blame is not pointed at police. Is there any way to contact the mental health professionals and sort of officially pass the responisibity over to them, without removing the individual in question to a potentially unhelpful environment in A&E?

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