The use of section 135(1) of the Mental Health Act in a London borough

Publication Date14 September 2015
AuthorJames Watson,Stephanie Daley
SubjectHealth & social care,Mental health
The use of section 135(1) of the Mental
Health Act in a London borough
James Watson and Stephanie Daley
James Watson is Social
Worker (Advanced Practitioner)
at Forensic Pathways
Medium Secure Services,
South London
and Maudsley NHS Trust,
London, UK.
Dr Stephanie Daley is Clinical
Research Fellow at Centre for
Dementia Studies, Brighton
and Sussex Medical School,
Brighton, UK.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to determine the incidence of the use of section 135(1) of the
Mental Health Act 1983 in a London borough and describe the main features of the population subject to
that section.
Design/methodology/approach Uses of section 135(1), hospital stay, and demographic data were
gathered from service and patient records over one year. Means, medians, modes and standard deviation
were calculated for interval data. Nominal data were cross-tabulated and the chi square test applied where
appropriate. Study data were compared to census and national hospital data; the significance of proportional
population differences were calculated using the Z-test.
Findings In total, 63 uses of section 135(1) were recorded. It was primarily used with people with psychotic
diagnoses (79 per cent), and was used predominantly in black populations, and among people aged
40-54. People admitted to hospital after section 135(1) use who had psychosis diagnoses had median spells
in hospital that were double the corresponding national median.
Research limitations/implications Total uses of section 135(1) in the borough equated to 25 per cent of
the national total for all section 135 admissions recorded in 2012/2013. Hospital statistics in England
focusing on admissions alone may fail to reflect a more widespread use of this section. Further research is
required to confirm and develop the findings of this small scale study.
Practical implications The repeated use of this section is suggested as a marker for reviewing practice
and resource allocation to prevent or shorten hospital admissions for people with psychosis diagnoses.
Originality/value This paper highlights gaps in NHS data collection in England relevant to policy makers,
mental health service providers, and the police service.
Keywords Police, Mental health professional, Mental Health Act 1983, s135(1), Section 135, Warrant,
Paper type Research paper
Sections 135(1), 135(2), and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) provide the sole legal
framework in England allowing the police to detain people believed to be or appearing to be
suffering from mental disorder. The three sections all empower the police to take the person to a
place of safety (typically a designated hospital facility) for further assessment for up to 72 hours,
but they are very different in how, where and why they are used.
Section 136 is a formal power of arrest allowing the police to act on their own discretion to detain
any apparently mentally disordered person who is in a public place and in need of immediate
care and control [] in the interests of that person or for the protection of other persons(MHA,
1983, section 136(1)). Sections 135(1) and 135(2), by contrast, are not exercisedat the discretion
of the police but rathergovern how the police enter private premisesto support the aims of mental
health professionals.
Received 3 February 2015
Revised 22 April 2015
Accepted 18 June 2015
This project was funded by a small
projects grant from the National
Institute for Health Researchs
Biomedical Research Centre for
Mental Health and Dementia Unit
(South London and Maudsley NHS
Foundation Trust, the Institute of
Psychiatry, Kings College
DOI 10.1108/MHRJ-02-2015-0007 VOL. 20 NO. 3 2015, pp. 133-143, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1361-9322
PAG E 13 3

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