The limited previous research on usage of section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) has either confined itself to description of socio-demographic and clinical data (Dunn ft Fahy, 1990) or considered procedural issues solely in urban areas (Rogers ft Faulkner, 1987). This is despite the repeated concern of the Mental Health Act Commission (1991), which has noted more widespread difficulties in the use of section 136, highlighting individual failures by local services to adhere to the Code of Practice MHA (Department of Health and Welsh Office, 1990). This study attempts a region-wide survey of section 136 agreements and the corresponding frequency of use of the procedures. This is in line with the Reed Committee recommendations (Department of Health/Home Office, 1992), which prioritised early diversion from custody as an area of research, and emphasised the desirability of multi-agency section 136 agreements.
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