To detail changes in the use of place of safety orders in England, including the outcome of these detentions, using publicly available data.
There was a sixfold increase in the rate of the Mental Health Act Section 136 detentions to places of safety in hospitals between 1984 and 2011. The use of Section 135 and the rate of subsequent detention under Section 2 or 3 also increased, but the proportion of people detained fell as the absolute rate of detention increased. There was a wide variation between regions in the use of hospitals or police stations as places of safety. The change in the annual rate of detention under Section 136 was associated with the annual change in the population of England.
The increase in detentions to places of safety in hospitals may in part reflect their move from police cells. It may also reflect a real increase in overall rate of detention and possibly a change in the threshold for the use of Section 136 detentions.
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