Police powers

Section 136 allows a police constable who finds a person apparently suffering from mental disorder in a place to which the public has access to remove him/ her to a place of safety for assessment by an ASW, who would usually request medical examination by a police surgeon and a psychiatrist. The person must appear in immediate need of care and control, and detention must appear necessary in the person's own interests or for the protection of others. Although Section 136 lasts up to 72 hours, good practice requires it to be cancelled after the professional assessment and, if necessary, replaced by Section 2 or 3.

Section 135 allows a constable, on a magistrate's warrant, to enter premises to remove a patient to a place of safety for up to 72 hours, if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a person suffering from mental disorder is being ill-treated or neglected, is not under proper control, or is unable to care for himself/herself and is living alone. It is used infrequently, as the constable in such a situation traditionally 'smells gas' and effects an entry under common law.

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