Quick Guide (Northern Ireland) – a129 Mental Health Order 1986

  • This quick guide is an attempt to “operationalise” some complex issues but you should refer to your own force policy and your supervisors for specific local requirements.
  • INTIAL ACTION
  • Decide whether the police are going to attend the assessment:
  • There is a legal duty only where the AMHP has a warrant OR where there are predicted RAVE risks
  • Otherwise – it is discretionary.
  • If there are RAVE risks from the patient, ask for an a129(1) warrant to be obtained – document any refusal / inability.
  • Yes, the ASW absolutely CAN apply for a warrant even if they know they can obtain access.
  • The point of doing so, is the warrant allows the management of risk once inside, by removing for assessment in a place of safety, if need be.
  • If there are RAVE risks from a third party, familiarise yourself with:
  • a125 MH(NI)O – criminal offence of obstructing an ASW in the course of their duty
  • Ensure the quick guide for conveyance is your next read.
  • LEGAL REMINDERS
  • Whether to apply for a warrant is a decision for the ASW
  • Whether to ask for a warrant, is the right of the police.
  • Without a warrant under a129(1) of the Mental Health Order, the police have NO powers to use force until: –
  • the ASW has ‘sectioned’ the patient or unless a criminal offence is attempted or a breach of the peace apprehended.
  • With a warrant under a129(1) , the police can force entry if need be, and remove to a place of safety if thought fit.
  • Whether to remove to a place of safety is a decision for the police.
  • If you do so, follow the same procedure as if for a130 MH(NI)O.

Winner of the President’s Medal,
the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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All opinions expressed are my own – they do not represent the views of any organisation.
(c) Michael Brown, 2019


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