Recently, concern has been expressed by mental health professionals, MIND, and the police regarding the management of Section 136 referrals, which at present varies according to the local psychiatric services available. In the majority of London Metropolitan Boroughs a person deemed to be in need of care and control is taken first to a police station where the necessary documentation is completed and then transported, often a considerable distance, to a mental hospital for the purpose of assessment. This can result in lengthy delays in a police cell for the patient, time-consuming negotiations with hospitals for the police, and problems completing the assessment procedure due to lack of availability of social workers. The importance of considering alternatives, particularly with the move towards community care, has been stressed.
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