"It is clear that too many [National Health Service] Clinical Commissioning Groups are failing in their duty to provide enough health-based places of safety," a report by the House of Commons home affairs select committee says. "The prevalence of people with mental illness within the criminal justice system is a scandal and any initiative that addresses this should be welcomed."
According to the report, 6,028 people were detained between 2013 and 2014 and taken to police cells under the Section 136 of the Mental Health Act allowing the use of police cells as a place of safety on an exceptional basis.
"We are concerned by the extent to which frontline officers are increasingly spending their time helping people with mental health problems," the report said.
Recommendations outlined in the report include the removal of the specific reference to police stations from the definition of "places of safety" in Section 136 and the government's guidance to police and health trusts on the exceptional cases that allow police cells to be used as shelter.
The report also added it was necessary to reinforce the guidance that mentally ill people should receive treatment in a mental health facility.