Teenagers with mental health problems will no longer be able to be held in police cells under sweeping reforms due to be announced today.
Home Secretary Theresa May is expected to reveal an overhaul of mental health laws in England and Wales.
It comes after a senior Devon and Cornwall Police officer complained the force had had to hold a 16-year-old girl with mental health problems in a cell for two days because there was no hospital bed available anywhere in the UK.
The review is also expected to reduce the maximum length of detention of someone in mental distress from 72 hours to 24, and to change guidance so that police cells can only be used for adults when their behaviour becomes so extreme that they cannot be managed elsewhere.
Mental health campaigners have welcomed the move, but warned more beds are needed if the reforms are to be effective.
One of the country's most senior policemen has condemned the provision of mental health care for children in Britain as "unacceptable."
Paul Netherton, Assistant Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, took the highly unusual step of speaking out on social media after his officers were forced to keep a teenage girl in custody because, he said, there was no proper facility for her anywhere in the UK.
After his outburst, she has been found a bed tonight. But as ITV News reporter Duncan Golestani has more on what her plight has exposed - what some call - a worrying lack of care for the vulnerable
The chief executive of the mental health charity Mind has slammed the "terrible and shameful" situation which meant a girl with mental health issues was held by polic'
This is a terrible and shameful situation. Being in mental health crisis can be terrifying and life-threatening, and people need urgent care from mental health services.
Paul Farmer said a police cell was a "completely inappropriate place to put someone who is so unwell", adding: "This whole episode shows how thinly spread NHS mental health services are."
Thousands of people with mental health issues are being taken into police custody every year because of a lack of mental health care provision, a leading charity has warned.
Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said while the teenage girl being held for two days was “troubling”, it was far from an isolated incident.
Each year thousands of people with serious mental health problems are being held in police cells, including many children and teenagers, because the right services either don't exist in their community or are completely overstretched.
Being held in a police cell can be extremely distressing, and should only ever happen as an absolute last resort.
But many people are being turned away from 'places of safety', because of staff shortages or lack of spaces. In some parts of the country, there are no health-based places of safety full-stop.
The girl has now been found a place locally, NHS bosses have confirmed.
The police chief who raised awareness of a major shortage in NHS mental health care beds has welcomed news that a teenage girl is to leave police custody after a place was finally found.
Just heard that a place of care has been found for our 16yr old. Good result.
Mental health experts have criticised “unacceptable” cutbacks to services in the UK which led to a teenage girl being forced to stay in police custody as the NHS could not accommodate her for two days.
Chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Dr Peter Carter, said over the past four years more than 3,300 mental health nursing posts had been lost along with 1,500 available beds, despite a 30 per cent rise in the number of patients needing care.
It's appalling that any patient should be taken into police custody due to a lack of mental health beds - it's particularly unacceptable that it should happen to a 16-year-old.
These cutbacks are having a devastating impact on those who desperately need care and support. It's a terrible indictment of this country's inadequate mental health provision.
A teenage girl with mental health issues who was being held in police custody due to there being "no beds available in the UK" will be moved this evening, NHS England has said.
A spokesman for NHS said the girl she would be moved to a "place appropriate for her care".
The mother of a teenage girl with mental health issues has taken a “big box of chocolates” in to police officers keeping her daughter in custody due to a shortage of NHS beds.
The 16-year-old was detained by Devon and Cornwall Police on Thursday night and sectioned yesterday – but with officers being told there was nowhere in the UK to transfer her to, they have kept her in the custody suite.
Asst Ch Con Paul Netherton said the girl’s mother was “grateful” that the force was taking care of her. They have even taken her a McDonald’s meal, he added.
NHS England has said it is working with police to establish the exact needs of a teenage girl currently being held in custody, with the aim of arranging suitable care.
A spokesman added the number of people with mental health issues ending up in police custody was down by a quarter overall.
We are immediately asking the police for proper information about the needs of this 16-year-old girl so the NHS locally can urgently arrange appropriate care for her wherever it is available.
More broadly, it is worth noting that mental health crisis services have been expanding so that the number of people ending up in police cells is in fact down by a quarter - but clearly there is more to do.
The assistant chief constable who revealed a shortage of NHS beds meant a teenage girl with mental health issues had been forced to spend two nights in police custody has voiced his concern over the lack of provision for children.
Asst Ch Cons Paul Netherton, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said there were places for adults to be detained in an emergency – but not for children.
I do not think there's sufficient provision for children who suffer mental health issues and need to be detained in an emergency situation like this.
We just question why there is no provision for children, and actually we think that children should be the priority and we should therefore have places where we can take children who are in crisis.