03 February 2014
Place of safety
AWP is opening a new 'place of safety' on the Southmead hospital
site on Monday 3 February.
The new four-place facility will replace the existing single-bed
place of safety located at Callington Road Hospital.
The place of safety is for people in extreme mental distress who
are detained for their own safety and the safety of others under
section 136 of the mental health act. Under section 136 people can
be detained for specialist assessment for up to 72 hours. However,
this is usually done within a fraction of this time, enabling the
person to receive the right treatment and care as quickly as
Our chief executive Iain Tulley explained, "Our new 136 suite,
or place of safety, is a truly exciting development. For many more
people it will mean the difference between their anxiety escalating
in a police cell and feeling safe and cared for in the suite, thus
setting them up for the best possible recovery. We're incredibly
grateful to the four Clinical Commissioning Groups, the Police and
Crime Commissioner and Avon and Somerset Police for enabling and
supporting this to happen."
Sue Mountstevens, Avon & Somerset Police & Crime
Commissioner, said, "I have always been passionate that police
cells are not a place to detain someone suffering mental illness.
Too often I have heard about people being detained under the mental
health act even though they have committed no crime.
"People who are mentally ill require specialist help in order to
get better. Unlike a mental health professional, police officers
are not trained to provide the necessary level of support to
someone with mental health problems.
"The opening fully supports my aspiration to have no mental health
detainees in police custody."
Andrew Keefe, the Associate Director for mental health at South
West Commissioning Support, the organisation responsible for the
commissioning of the new facility on behalf of Bristol, North
Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset
"I am pleased to see the new unit finally opened. Although it has
taken a lot longer to achieve than anyone would have wanted, it is
evidence of what can be done, even in financially austere times,
when four CCGs work together with a mental health trust to the
benefit of local people.
"For too long, too many people with acute mental health needs have
found themselves in a police cell rather than a dedicated mental
health facility. This new unit means that fewer people will be held
in a Police cell and that can only be a good thing for all
concerned - not least the person in need"
Iain Tulley concluded, "This development is a great indicator of
how we now work together with diverse local agencies and
organisations. The days when a priority might have been to remove
people displaying extreme distress from public view are long gone.
Now the priority is working together to set people on the road to
recovery as early as possible.
"Whilst we herald the new place of safety, in reality we want it
to be only a very small part of the story for an ever decreasing
number of people. By working as part of the local community to make
mental health more visible and more widely discussed, and by
constantly broadening the focus of, and improving access to, our
services, we're moving in that direction."