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People undergoing mental health crisis should receive medical care, not police custody, newly-elected PCC Kathryn Holloway said today.

Speaking during Mental Health Awareness Week Ms Holloway said: “One in four people experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives and just like those with a physical ailment they need medical help.
“I applaud the proposals unveiled yesterday by the Queen’s Speech to ban the use of police cells as a ‘place of safety’ for under 18s.  But in Bedfordshire I want to go further – and we will. 

“I am determined to do everything in my power to ensure that anyone at any age experiencing mental health crisis has access to appropriate medical help rather than ending up in the cells or the Criminal Justice System.   

“It’s truly shocking that although illness is not a criminal offence, police officers are estimated to spend around 20 per cent of their time dealing with cases involving mental health issues.  I want to see Bedfordshire’s officers using this time to cut crime in our communities while trained professionals help those in need of mental health support.”  

Her comments were reflected in the Queen’s Speech earlier this week where plans to take action to ensure better mental health provision for individuals in the criminal justice system were highlighted.  Proposed legislation in the Policing and Crime Bill will see the use of police cells as places of safety for under 18s banned.  
Ms Holloway concluded, saying: “It is critical that people receive timely treatment and support from those qualified to deliver it.  Police cells should be used for those who have been arrested for a crime.  By working closely with our health service partners we can deliver this.