Police stations - Mental health
How do the police deal with mental health?
The police or the custody sergeant may be concerned that you are mentally vulnerable. If you agree your legal representative, friend or relative could tell the police you have mental health issues. If so, they should get an appropriate adult for you as soon as possible.
For more information on ‘Appropriate Adult’ click here.
What is mentally vulnerable?
The police have to use a code of practice. This says a mentally vulnerable person is someone who cannot understand the importance of what people are saying, or of questions and their answers.
Responsibility of the custody sergeant
The custody sergeant should contact an Appropriate Health Care Professional (AHCP) when a mentally vulnerable person is at the police station. The AHCP will see you and let the custody sergeant know if there are any risks or problems with keeping you at the police station. They will also say if you are well enough for the police to interview and anything the police need to do to keep you safe.
The custody sergeant should call an appropriate adult if you need one, even if the AHCP says this or not.
If you take any medication the custody sergeant should discuss this with the AHCP before allowing you to take it. The custody sergeant has to look after the medication and make sure you get the chance to take it. If you have medication that your doctor didn’t prescribe the police may not give these back. An example might be if you have benzodiazepine but your GP has not prescribed them to you.
If you have a mental illness, the police should check on you in your cell at least once an hour.
Your legal representative should talk to you about what the police think you have done. They should act in your best interests.
They should remind you that the police haven’t proven anything. The interview gives you chance to give your side of the story.
You should tell your legal representative about your mental health. They will think about whether this could have played a part in the crime the police think you have carried out. The legal representative should discuss if you should answer police questions or not, or give them a written statement. Even though you have the right to remain silent, this can be held against you if your case goes to court as we discussed here.
The legal representative and appropriate adult are there for you and can ask for breaks if they feel you need this. They can interrupt the police if they think you are becoming distressed from questioning.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays