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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

CR159. Standards on the use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (England and Wales)

Price: £0.00

Approved: Apr 2010

Published: Jul 2011

Status: current

Number of pages: 80

Review by: 2013

Download free PDF version

Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 gives the police powers to remove a person who appears to be suffering from mental disorder and who is “in immediate need of care or control” from a public place to a place of safety. Removal may take place if a police officer believes it is necessary in the interests of that person, or for the protection of others. The purpose of removing a person to a place of safety (usually a police station cell or hospital emergency department) is to enable them to be assessed by a doctor or interviewed by an allied mental health professional; however, they may be discharged from there without ever having seen a mental health practitioner. Because Section 136 is one of only two types of civil detention under the Mental Health Act for which no statutory form is required, there continues to be a lack of reliable data on the use of Section 136.


This updated report is a set of standards giving guidance on the use of Section 136. It advocates the provision of dedicated assessment facilities in mental health units, which must be adequately staffed. The focus of this report has moved more to monitoring and research and it includes 24 separate recommendations focusing on:

  • Physical standards of places of safety
  • Staffing issues
  • Conveyance of patients between places of safety
  • Local Policy and monitoring of standards (both at the local and the national level).

The report includes a revised version of the standardised recording form to monitor Section 136 detentions; this will give rise to much-needed data on the quality of care and will enable research to be conducted and audits to be carried out to ensure that standards of care improve.

The recommendations in CR159 now also apply to Wales as it takes into account the Codes of Practice for both England and Wales (2008).

Note: This report replaces CR149: Standards on the use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (2007) (version for England) from 2008 and CR61: Report of the working group on standards of places of safety under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act (1983) from 1997.


  • Organisations endorsing the report
  • Executive summary and recommendations
  • Preface
  • Working Group
  • Introduction
  • Comments on preliminary report by users and carers from Black and minority ethnic communities with experience of the use of Section 136 (September 2007)
  • Place of safety
  • Staff roles and responsibilities in relation to Section 136
  • Local policy and procedure on the use of Section 136
  • Procedure for implementation of Section 136
  • Monitoring and audit
  • References



  1. Mental health monitoring form
  2. Staff roles, responsibilities and support required
  3. Success criteria from the Review of Section 136 Mental Health Act
  4. Comparison of the Codes of Practice for England and for Wales in relation to Section 136 of the Mental Health Act


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