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Med Sci Law. 2010 Jan;50(1):29-33.

The use of Section 136 (Mental Health Act 1983) in Gloucestershire.

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2gether NHS Foundation Trust, Montpellier Unit, Horton Road, Gloucester GL1 3WL, UK.


The small number of published studies on the use of Section 136 (S136) of the Mental Health Act 1983 may reflect neither the current situation nor the true national picture as most of the research comes from large urban centres and was published before 1997. We studied the use of S136 between 2002 and 2006 in Gloucestershire, a rural English county with a population of approximately 585,000, by analysing data held by the police and local mental health services. On average 192 subjects (range 176-203) were detained each year under S136, equating to a population rate of 32.8 S136 detentions per 100,000 per year in Gloucestershire. In contrast to other published studies, ethnic minorities, particularly Afro-Caribbean males, were overrepresented only in a minor way. Of those individuals detained, about a third were admitted, a lower rate than in other studies. Acts or threats of self-harm were common (55%), but acts or threats of violence (28%) and evidence of intoxication (16%) were present in a minority, suggesting that detainees are more likely to pose a risk to themselves than others.

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