Police Custody: Children

Home Office written question – answered on 12th September 2014.

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Photo of Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate she has made of the number of children detained in police custody under the Mental Health Act 1983 in each year since May 2010.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The Home Office does not hold this information centrally.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) published data for 2012/13 showing that 263 children and young people aged under 18 were detained in police custody under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983, out of a total of 7,761 people detained in police cells under Section 136 that year. This was the first time this data was collected from police forces and the HSCIC have indicated that this data is incomplete as not all police forces responded and some police force returns were based on estimates.

The Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat, published by the Government in February this year, includes an action for the Home Office and the National Police Lead for Mental Health to develop a data toolkit to enable the police to quantify the demand for responses to people in mental health crisis, including whether a person is detained in police custody. The toolkit is currently being tested by the Metropolitan Police Service, British Transport Police and Thames Valley Police with a view to subsequent roll-out across forces in England and Wales.

The Home Office is working with the Department of Health on a review of the operation of Sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. This is with a view to ensuring that young people with mental health problems are not unnecessarily detained in police custody. We aim to publish a joint report later this year.

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