Quick Guide – Absent / Absconded

  • This lists various sections of patient who are absent or who have absconded and the timescales within which they may be re-detained by the police.
  • ABSENT (without leave)
  • Patients who are AWOL from hospital under these sections –
  • 2 – up until 28 days after their original admission to hospital
  • 3 – up to six months after the date on which they become AWOL
  • 4 – up to 72hrs after their original admission to hospital
  • 5(2) – up to 72hrs after their original detention under this power
  • 5(4) – up to 6hrs after their original detention under this power.
  • 7 – up to six months after the date on which they become AWOL
  • 17A – up to six months after the date on which they were recalled.
  • 37 – up to six months after the date on which they become AWOL
  • 37/41 – any time after they become AWOL.
  • LEGAL REMINDERS –
  • All of these re-detentions are made under s18 of the Mental Health Act
  • There is no power to force entry:
  • Should forced entry be required – apply for a warrant under s135(2) from a Magistrate.
  • PART II ABSCONDERS (from legal custody)
  • Liable to be detained means an application for admission to hospital under the following sections has been made, but the patient has absconded before arrival there.
  • 2 – up to 28 days from the date they abscond
  • 3 – up to six months from the date they abscond
  • 4 – up to 72hrs from the time they abscond
  • Patients can also abscond before being received into guardianship under section –
  • 7 – up to six months from the date they abscond
  • 37* – up to six months from the date they abscond
  • 37/41* – at any time after they abscond
  • * These sections are under Part III, but by virtue of s40 MHA and for the purposes of absconding and absence they are treated “as if” under Part II.
  • PLACE OF SAFETY ABSCONDERS
  • 135(1) – if absconded before arriving at the PoS, up to 72hrs after absconding.
  • 135(1) – if absconded after arriving at the PoS, up to 72hrs after arriving.
  • 136 – if absconded before arriving at the PoS, up to 72hrs after absconding.
  • 136 – if absconded after arriving at the PoS, up to 72hrs after arriving.
  • LEGAL REMINDERS –
  • All of these re-detentions for Part II and Place of Safety absconders are made under s138 of the Mental Health Act
  • There is no power to force entry:
  • Should forced entry be required – apply for a warrant under s135(2) from a Magistrate.
  • PART III ABSCONDERS (from lawful custody)
  • There are three sections where particular powers apply if the patient abscond from hospital whilst involved in criminal proceedings –
  • 35 – remanded to hospital for reports: re-detain under s35(10)
  • 36 – remanded to hospital for treatment: re-detain under s36(8)
  • 38 – an interim hospital order after conviction: re-detain under s38(7)
  • Only the police can re-detain these three categories of patient
  • The police must return the patient to the court which remanded them.
  • There is no power of entry under the MHA to exercise these powers, but! –
  • Escaping from lawful custody is a criminal offence and a power of entry may be exercised to effect and arrest for it, OR
  • Obtain a warrant under s135(2).

______________________________________________________________________
The Mental Health Cop blog

Badgewon the ConnectedCOPS ‘Top Cop’ Award for leveraging social media in policing.
won the Digital Media Award from the UK’s leading mental health charity, Mind
– won a World of Mentalists #TWIMAward for the best in mental health blogs

ccawards2013 was highlighted by the Independent Commission on Policing & Mental Health
– was referenced in the UK Parliamentary debate on Policing & Mental Health
was commended by the Home Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament.

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7 thoughts on “Quick Guide – Absent / Absconded

  1. Boss have you got an email I can send a quick question to about a s3 patient an moving them from one place of safety to a hospital?

    Thanks

    1. They can assist, legally speaking. I’ll add this to the post shortly(!) – well spotted. Whether they will assist, is something that will be determined in your local protocol. If it isn’t, it should be!

    1. The police often receive reports about informal patients who have left without notice / permission. Nothing prevents the police being told or involved in searching for them, but we can only detain them if we find them in a public place.

      If we find them at home, for example, then we have no power alone to act – it would be necessary to get MH services to attend the address and assess the person for detention under the MHA.

  2. How can one find out how many absconds/awols there have been from a particular MH unit? I understand from local residents that these events are not uncommon. A close relative died as a result of abscond under section 2. It was denied at the inquest that abscond/awol is a common occurrence.

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