Skip Navigation
Search site

This is our old website. Most information can now be found on our new NHS Digital website. Let us know what you think.

Mental Health Act detentions top 50,000 a year

30 October, 2013: Detentions continue to rise while use of place of safety orders fall

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures
*Regional data to Police Force and Hospital Trust level available

The number of detentions3 under the Mental Health Act2 in NHS hospitals topped 50,000 last year, a four per cent rise on 2011/12 (from 48,600 to 50,400). Detentions in independent sector hospitals increased by 17 per cent (from 3,600 to 4,300).

Today's report: Inpatients formally detained in hospitals under the Mental Health Act 1983, and patients subject to supervised community treatment, annual figures, England 2012/13 also provides information about the use of other sections of the Mental Health Act, such as Place of Safety Orders4, Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) 5 and longer detentions in hospital.

Police stations were used for one in three known Place of Safety Orders, (an estimated 7,800 of the total 22,100); these involved the individual being taken to a police station6 for their own safety or that of others. While these police figures are estimates and released by the HSCIC for only the second year today, they show an approximate fall of ten per cent on the 2011/12 estimate. For the majority of the remaining Place of Safety Orders individuals were taken to hospitals in 14,100 instances, which is a six per cent fall on the previous year (14,900 orders).

Regarding CTOs, the report also shows that in 2012/13:

  • Just over 5,200 people were subject to a CTO on the 31st March, a 10 per cent rise on the previous year (4,800).
  • There were 2,300 CTO recalls which is a nine per cent rise on the previous year (2,100).
  • Of the 3,700 CTOs to end during the reporting year, 41 per cent ended by revocation rather than discharge (compared with 46 per cent in the previous year).

The report also includes a snapshot of the number of people detained in hospital under the Mental Health Acton 31 March 2013, when just under 17,000 people were detained - a three per cent fall compared to the same date in the previous year (17,500)3.

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: "Today's report provides a comprehensive review of uses of the Mental Health Act during 2012/13.

"It includes analyses from new data sources including the Mental Health Minimum Data Set and provides a valuable insight into the provision of care for people with mental health disorders."

The report is at


Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 130 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. The Mental Health Act is the law under which someone can be admitted, detained and treated in hospital against their wishes.

3. Detentions under the Mental Health Act are defined in the report as:

  • Detentions on admission to hospital under Part II (Sections 2 and 3) and Part III of the Mental Health Act 1983, and under previous legislation (Fifth Schedule) and other Acts;
  • Detentions subsequent to admission (uses of Part II Sections 2 and 3, following a change of legal status from Section 4, 5 or informal stay in hospital);
  • Detentions under Part II Sections 2 and 3 following the use of Section 136;
  • Detentions following a Community Treatment Order (CTO) revocation.
  • Sections 135 and 136 are short-term detention orders (with a limit of 72 hours) made to a 'Place of Safety'.

4. A 'Place of Safety' (PoS) is defined for the purposes of The Mental Health Act as:

  • A hospital (including an independent hospital);
  • A police station; 
  • A care home for mentally disordered patients;
  • Residential accommodation provided by a local social services authority under Part III of the National Assistance Act 1947;
  • Any other suitable place where the occupier is willing temporarily to receive the patient.

5. The Mental Health Act 2007 (which amended the Mental Health Act 1983) introduced Community Treatment Orders (CTOs, sometimes referred to as supervised community treatment). Patients detained in hospital for treatment under Section 3 (and certain Part III Sections) can be discharged from detention onto a CTO to continue their treatment in the community. While on a CTO, they can, if necessary, be recalled to hospital for up to 72 hours for assessment and/or treatment ('CTO recall'). If after that time the patient is not sufficiently well to be released under their CTO, the underlying Section can be reinstated ('CTO revocation'). If a patient is discharged from CTO without revocation this is termed 'CTO discharge'.

6. Estimates of Section 136 place of safety orders to police custody were based on figures extracted from the computer systems of individual police forces, for which there may be additional uncertainty due to variations in the precise definitions used. These statistics are therefore classed as 'experimental statistics'. They exclude place of safety orders used by British Transport Police. Information on place of safety orders made to police custody suites under Section 135 is not currently available, but we hope to facilitate its inclusion in the future.

7. Figures in this press release have been rounded to the nearest 100 - exact figures are within the report. Percentages are based on exact figures and are rounded to the nearest whole number.

8. For media enquiries or interview requests please contact the press office on 0845 257 6990 or

Close iCM Form