Place of safety

What is a place of safety?

The police can use the law (the mental health act) to take people from a public place to a ‘Place of Safety’ or ‘136 suite’ if they seem to have a mental illness and be in need of care.  A Place of Safety is a place where mental health professionals can assess people’s needs and work out the best next steps.

What changes are being proposed?

Currently, there is a small place of safety in each of the boroughs we serve (Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark).  We are proposing to replace these with one larger Central Place of Safety on the Maudsley Hospital site in Southwark.

Why are we proposing this change?

The existing Places of Safety are not nice environments. They do not have their own staff team and nurses from the wards are called to staff them when needed. However, we often can’t open a Place of Safety because staff cannot be released from the ward. There are also times when all Places of Safety are full. This means that people in distress can spend long periods of time waiting in police vans or ambulances for a Place of Safety to become available. We think that a Central Place of Safety will help to address these problems - there will be a dedicated staff team of nurses and doctors who will be able to provide a faster assessment. This brand new facility will be much better equipped to assess people’s physical and mental health and will be appropriate for everyone.

There is a document with more detail about the changes. Click here to read the document.

Getting people’s views

Click here to read a report which details the patient and public engagement work we have undertaken to inform the development of our Place of Safety suite.


As part of the work we listened to:

  • People who have used a place of safety.
  • People who have experienced a mental health crisis, or supported someone who has.
  • Local groups and organisations.


This report describes:

  • How service users, and those people and organisations who support them, have been involved in the discussions and planning.
  • The themes arising from the feedback and discussions.
  • How feedback and involvement has influenced policy and practice.


The report includes feedback from our Place of Safety open day held on 9 August 2016 held in partnership with Healthwatch – more than 200 people in total attended the day to take a tour of the site. This, and our other engagement work, has resulted in new practices being put in place to support patients whilst they are using our Place of Safety. For example, as a result of feedback we are introducing a support pack that will help people to reduce their levels of anxiety. The pack includes an MP3 player for soothing music and magazines and books – ideas that were suggested by people who shared their feedback with us.

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