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New place of safety will reduce distress

Sue on a bench

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens

A new ‘place of safety’ on the Southmead hospital site has today (Monday 3 February) been opened with the help of Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens.

The new four-place service is being commissioned by Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and will replace the existing single-bed place of safety located at Callington Road Hospital.

The place of safety is for people in extreme mental distress who are detained under section 136 of the mental health act. Under section 136 people can be detained, for their own safety and the safety of others, for a maximum of 72 hours for specialist assessment, although in practice the professionals approved to carry out this assessment aim to complete it in a fraction of that time to enable the person to receive the right treatment and care as quickly as possible.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I am delighted that following many conversations and much lobbying a new four bed facility staffed by trained nurses is now up and running.

“I have always been passionate that police cells are not a place to detain someone suffering mental illness.  Too often I have heard about people being detained under the Mental Health Act even though they have committed no crime. 

“People who are mentally ill require specialist help in order to get better.  Unlike a mental health professional, police officers are not trained to provide the necessary level of support to someone with mental health problems.

“The opening today fully supports my aspiration to have no mental health detainees in police custody.”   

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Chief Executive Iain Tulley explained, “Our new 136 suite, or place of safety, is a truly exciting development. For many more people it will mean the difference between their anxiety escalating in a police cell and feeling safe and cared for in the suite, thus setting them up for the best possible recovery. We’re incredibly grateful to the four Clinical Commissioning Groups, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Avon and Somerset Police for enabling and supporting this to happen.”

Iain Tulley concluded, “This development is actually a great indicator of how we now work together with diverse local agencies and organisations to create an holistic approach to mental health as part of the everyday life of our communities. The days when a priority might have been to remove people displaying extreme distress from public view are long gone. Now the priority is working together to set people on the road to recovery as early as possible. The irony is that as we herald the new place of safety, in reality we want it to be only a very small part of the story for an ever decreasing number of people. By working as part of the local community to make mental health more visible and more widely discussed, and by constantly broadening the focus of, and improving access to, our services, we’re moving in that direction." 



Posted on Monday 3rd February 2014
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