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Police: PaCA – Section 140 MHA

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

This blog is part of the series which will cover, in detail, the amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 within the Policing and Crime Act 2017. This post is one of several which relates not the amendments themselves, but to the implications arising from them.

For background to the series, see the introductory post which outlines why I’m doing this and what other specific issues will be covered concerning laws that will come in to effect in the next few months. Current Home Office estimations of timescales suggest early May – but this is subject to a number of factors and may change.


It’s now a dozen years since I first read section 140 of the Mental Health Act 1983 – and  I recently met some senior mental health professionals who never ever read or even heard of it. I came across this neglected provision because I decided to read the Mental Health Act cover to cover, as well as the Code of Practice to the Act, in lieu of being able to get any police specific training at all for my first job working properly on these...

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Police: Thomas Orchard

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

Today, a police custody sergeant and two detention officers have been cleared of manslaughter following a retrial at Bristol Crown Court. The trial follows the death, in 2012, of Thomas Orchard a 32-year-old man from Exeter who lived with schizophrenia who had been arrested and removed to a police station whilst in crisis. In terms of me covering these events on here, I want to put on record that I have had no involvement in any way with any process that followed the incident or any contact with any parties involved. What follows are only my own thoughts after following the investigation and trial process over the last five years.  It touches on the most difficult of issues: the criminal prosecution of police officers following the death of a vulnerable man.

The police received a call from a member of the public to the place where Mr Orchard was arrested under the Public Order Act.  He was restrained upon arrest and removed to a police custody suite. Upon entering custody, it was contended by the police officers who were cleared that he was...

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Police: PaCA – The Consultation Requirement

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

This blog is part of the series which will cover, in detail, the amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 within the Policing and Crime Act 2017.

For background to the series, see the introductory post which outlines why I’m doing this and what other specific issues will be covered concerning laws that will come in to effect in the next few months. Current Home Office estimations of timescales suggest early May – but this is subject to a number of factors and may change.


If you look at the so-called Street Triage schemes, most of them are predicated on the idea of police officers contacting a mental health profession, usually a nurse, and seeking information or advice about a person they have met at an incident. The nurse may opt to turn up to the job and do a face-to-face assessment or the may advise from wherever they are, by telephone. Many areas claim that since the introduction of street triage their use of s136 has reduced, in some cases quite considerably. This idea lies behind the new legal requirement...

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Police: PaCA – Operational Officers

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

This blog is part of the series which will cover, in detail, the amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 within the Policing and Crime Act 2017.

For background to the series, see the introductory post which outlines why I’m doing this and what other specific issues will be covered concerning laws that will come in to effect in the next few months. Current Home Office estimations of timescales suggest early May – but this is subject to a number of factors and may change.


These are the Mental Health Act amendments, stripped to the absolute bone for ease of digestion by operational police officers.  It may also be a useful summary for service users / carers or other front line professionals, but it’s written for officers who need to read it!

Click on the ‘more detail’ links to take you to the main posts I’ve written on the amendments I’m briefly summarising here! –

  • Section 136 MHA –
  • You can now use s136 in any public or private place, unless it is a “house, flat or room” where someone lives, or any...

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Police: PaCA: Anywhere Other Than a Home

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

This blog is part of the series which will cover, in detail, the amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 within the Policing and Crime Act 2017.

For background to the series, see the introductory post which outlines why I’m doing this and what other specific issues will be covered concerning laws that will come in to effect in the next few months. Current Home Office estimations of timescales suggest early May – but this is subject to a number of factors and may change.


The time for debate about whether or not the police should have powers under the Mental Health Act (MHA) in someone’s home are over: the Bill became an Act and the law is now framed, beyond discussion. Whilst the extent of s136 MHA has been widened, the summary of it is “you can use section 136 anywhere except a home where someone lives”.  This post covers the detail of what that means and will get in to that whole debate about gardens and garages, etc..  But you can forever ditch that tortuous phrase “place to which the public has access” and any...

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Police: PaCA – Twenty Four Hours!

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

This blog is part of the series which will cover, in detail, the amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 within the Policing and Crime Act 2017. For background to the series, see the introductory post which outlines why I’m doing this and what other specific issues will be covered concerning laws that will come in to effect in the next few months. Current Home Office estimations of timescales suggest early May – but this is subject to a number of factors and may change.


Following commencement, the limit for holding someone in any location as a Place of Safety will reduce from 72 to 24 hours. – see s136(2A) MHA. This will bring England and Wales in to line with Scotland who capped Place of Safety detention at 24 hours almost fifteen years ago. I will admit, this is the amendment I’m most worried about in the whole programme: we know there are various reasons why assessment under s136 exceeds 24hrs on a fairly frequent basis; indeed there are not-entirely-rare examples of 72hrs proving insufficient because of difficulties...

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Police: PaCA – Powers of Search

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

This blog is part of the series which will cover, in detail, the amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 within the Policing and Crime Act 2017. For background to the series, see the introductory post which outlines why I’m doing this and what other specific issues will be covered concerning laws that will come in to effect in the next few months. Current Home Office estimations of timescales suggest early May – but this is subject to a number of factors and may change.


When the police refer to powers of search, we are referring typically two types of power and there are examples of each in the Policing and Crime Act (PaCA). Firstly, it refers to powers to search premises; secondly a power to search people. For the first time ever, the Mental Health Act (MHA) will have a power for the police to enter and search premises without the need for obtaining a warrant from a Magistrates Court (see section 135, for examples of warrants being required). And there will now be explicit powers of search relating to people who are detained...

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Police: The ‘New’ Section 138

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

What follows is the full, amended text of section 138 Mental Health Act 1983, as it will be following a commencement order that brings it in to effect. For the ‘new’ section 135 and section 136 MHA, including sections 136A, 1336B and 136C, see those related posts.

NB! – this is NOT the current law as of 03rd March 2017 – this is the law as it will become, following a commencement order yet to be laid before Parliament.


Section 138 – retaking of patients escaping from custody

(1) If any person who is in legal custody by virtue of section 137 above escapes, he may, subject to the provisions of this section, be retaken—

(a) in any case, by the person who had his custody immediately before the escape, or by any constable or approved mental health professional;

(b) if at the time of the escape he was liable to be detained in a hospital within the meaning of Part II of this Act, or subject to guardianship under this Act, [F2or a community patient who was recalled to hospital under section 17E above,] by any other person...

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Police: The ‘New’ Section 136

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

What follows is the full, amended text of section 136 Mental Health Act 1983, as it will be following a commencement order that brings it in to effect.  It also includes the new sections 136A and 136B.  For the ‘new’ section 135 MHA, see a related post.

NB! – this is NOT the current law as of 03rd March 2017 – this is the law as it will become, following a commencement order yet to be laid before Parliament.


Section 136 – removal of mentally disordered persons without warrant.

(1) If a person appears to a constable to be suffering from mental disorder and to be in immediate need of care or control, the constable may, if he thinks it necessary to do so in the interests of that person or for the protection of other persons—

 (a) remove the person to a place of safety within the meaning of section 135, or

(b) if the person is already at a place of safety within the meaning of that section, keep the person at that place or remove the person to another place of safety.

(1A) The power of a constable under subsection...

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Police: The ‘New’ Section 135

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

What follows is the full, amended text of section 135 Mental Health ACt 1983, as it will be following a commencement order that brings it in to effect. For the ‘new’ section 136 MHA, including sections 136B and 136C, see a related post.

NB! – this is NOT the current law as of 03rd March 2017 – this is the law as it will become, following a commencement order yet to be laid before Parliament.


Section 135 – Warrant to search for and remove patients.

(1) If it appears to a justice of the peace, on information on oath laid by an approved mental health professional, that there is reasonable cause to suspect that a person believed to be suffering from mental disorder—

(a)has been, or is being, ill-treated, neglected or kept otherwise than under proper control, in any place within the jurisdiction of the justice, or

(b) being unable to care for himself, is living alone in any such place,the justice may issue a warrant authorising any constable to enter, if need be by force, any premises specified in the warrant in which...

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Latest Mental Health Cop Stories

PaCA – Section 140 MHA
Thomas Orchard
PaCA – The Consultation Requirement
PaCA – Operational Officers
PaCA: Anywhere Other Than a Home

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