Department of Health. Mental Health Act 1983 Code of Practice. 2015. https//

Ambulance call-outs for mental health patients in England soar by 23%. 2017. https//

National Police Chiefs' Council. National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Mental Health Use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 in 2015-16 (England and Wales). 2016. https//

Amended police powers under the MHA 1983

02 October 2017
Volume 9 · Issue 10


Paramedics are frequently called to people with acute mental health problems and often assist in caring for and transporting individuals subject to police powers under the Mental Health Act 1983, sections 135 and 136. Those powers will change when Chapter 4 of the Policing and Crime Act comes into force this autumn. In this short article featured for World Mental Health Day, Richard Griffith considers the impact of amendments to police powers on paramedic practice under the Mental Health Act 1983 introduced by the Policing and Crime Act 2017, Part 4, Chapter 4.

Ambulance call-outs to mental health patients have risen by 23% over the past 2 years and it is common for paramedics to attend to a person experiencing an acute mental health crisis (Marsh, 2017). A key reason for this increase is the requirement of the Mental Health Act 1983 codes of practice for England and Wales, both of which state:

‘Patients should always be transported in the manner which is most likely to preserve their dignity and privacy consistent with managing any risk to their health and safety or to other people.’

This generally requires that an ambulance or other method of transportation is made available to take the person to either the place of detention or the place where they ought to be, in accordance with a locally agreed policy on the transport of patients under the Act.

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