Teen placed in police custody as NHS has no beds available

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A senior police officer has revealed that a teenager suffering with mental health problems had to be detained in police custody for a period of almost two days because the NHS had no beds available.

To vent his frustration, Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton, from the Devon and Cornwall Police, turned to Twitter, after he was forced to retain the young girl in custody at a police station.

He said the girl, aged 16, was detained during Thursday night and section during lunchtime on Friday. At this stage, she should have been moved to a hospital, but police were informed that there was no available bed for her anywhere within the UK.

It was confirmed by NHS England on Saturday evening that a place had become available for the teen.

ACC Netherton said he was very concerned as they should not be placed in a position where they have to keep a 16-year-old in custody for a period of three days because there is no safe place to place her. He added that they would not place a criminal in custody for that period of time and they certainly do not want to place a person suffering from mental health problems into a custody block for such a long period.

He stated that a section of the cells had been closed off in an attempt to keep the teen in a ‘quiet and calm’ environment and they allowed her mother visitation to reassure the young girl.

He said this was an ongoing issue and Devon & Cornwall alone have had 750 people with mental health problems being detained in police stations during the past year. He said their main concern in this particular case, which is a countrywide problem, is that it involves children.

He does not fear for his job after turning to Twitter as he said that they are simply stating the facts and that is part of his job.

According to NHS England more work needs to be done, but stated that mental health crisis services have been expanded, which has resulted in the reduction of the number of people ending up in police stations.

The problem of waiting for beds has trebled over the past four years, with patients being forced to endure waits of up to 12 hours on trolleys at A&E departments.

The figures indicate that the problems are highest in London.

Senior managers stated that they fear the NHS is entering the worst crisis for at least 10 years.

According to the chief executive of the NHS Trust Foundation Network, Chris Hopson, services were ‘overwhelmed’ in many parts of the country.

Image Credit: J D Mack

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