Police Scotland and place of safety follow up – Scottish health boards’ psychiatric emergency plans

In 2018, the Mental Welfare Commission completed a report on Police Scotland’s use and recording of Place of Safety orders – powers used by the police to detain a mentally distressed person for up to 24 hours so they can be assessed by a doctor.

The Commission consulted Police Scotland, people who had been mentally distressed and subject to a Place of Safety order, and families/carers, and collected their experiences of how mental health crises are managed. 

The report found high levels of care and compassion from the police officers involved, but variations in health board responses to the crises.

In follow-up to this work, the Commission contacted every health board in Scotland to request a copy of their Psychiatric Emergency Plan (PEP), a key part of planning how health boards respond to people in these situations. The Commission undertook to review the content of all PEPs in detail. 

Today, the Commission published a report of how and why it undertook this work including a summary of how PEPs from every health board in Scotland matched against key themes and issued this to all health boards across Scotland, along with a new template outlining what the Commission believes would be helpful to include in all Psychiatric Emergency Plans. 

Dr Moira Connolly, executive project advisor, Mental Welfare Commission, said:

“In creating the template, we have covered subjects that were important to people who have been distressed and in crisis, and their family or carers. We also worked with representatives from Police Scotland, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Government directorate for mental health, and practitioners from a variety of clinical backgrounds. 

“We hope that by using the template when updating their PEPs, health boards across Scotland will offer the same high quality level of service to people in these crisis situations, no matter which part of the country they are in.”

Dr Connolly added:

“We are mindful that due to the coronavirus pandemic mental health services have had to be temporarily reconfigured. 

“But we hope that, for the longer term, the documents published today will add to the positive work already demonstrated by Police Scotland by ensuring health boards across the country have equally robust plans for responding to these situations.”

The recently expanded Distress Brief Intervention programme is another service that might help people in distress.

Read the report here

View the template here

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