PATIENTS suffering a mental health crisis are still being placed in police cells because there are no available NHS-run places of safety.

A report to the Brighton and Hove wellbeing board found the number of people having to be sectioned and taken into custody had fallen significantly.

However it said there was still work to do to ensure there was enough capacity in hospitals to cope with demand and expand community-based services.

The report said a mental health rapid response service provided telephone support 24/7 and was available to any adult at risk to themselves or others.

But the system was not always able to respond swiftly enough if several callers contacted the service at the same time and could only offer face-to-face assessments until 10pm.

After that, patients generally go to Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital where there is a mental health liaison team available all day and night.

The report said the hospital service was not hitting its target of assessing 95 per cent of patients within an hour.

A community crisis support team provides intensive support to people so they do not have to be admitted to hospital but again the service ends at 10pm.

A pilot project between police and the Sussex Partnership Trust, which provides mental health services, used a street triage scheme where a specialist nurse travelled to mental health incidents with officers during shifts.

This led to a significant reduction in the use of police cells.

Police can detain people under the Mental Health Act and take them to a health-based place of safety at Millview Hospital in Hove or take them into custody in exceptional circumstances.

The number of people in Brighton and Hove detained in cells or a place of safety has fallen from 304 in 2014/15 to 162 in 2016/17.

However there have already been 104 between April and September.

This has sparked concerns about NHS bed capacity from Caroline Penn, Brighton and Hove City Council member for mental health.

She welcomed plans being developed but said it was vital more was done to check why so many people were reaching a crisis point.

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are working with mental health services, A&E and emergency services to improve the mental health crisis services.

“The plans involve additional mental health staff to work at the Royal Sussex as well as the development of an enhanced crisis care hub.”

This will include the development of a crisis care lounge at Millview and a priority response for the police.