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The statutory provisions regulating the mental health system are set out in the Mental Health Act 1983 (“the 1983 Act”). Under s.115, an approved mental health professional may at all reasonable times enter and inspect any premises in which a mentally disordered person is living if there is reasonable cause to believe that he or she is not being properly cared for. The mental health professional must produce authenticated proof that he or she is an approved mental health professional if requested.
Magistrates have the power under s.135 to issue two kinds of warrant authorising a police officer to enter premises. The first can only be issued if an approved mental health professional gives evidence to the magistrate that there is reasonable cause to suspect that a mentally disordered person is being ill-treated there, or not properly cared for, or is unable to look after himself or herself. An approved mental health professional and a doctor must accompany the police officer acting on this kind of warrant.
The second kind of warrant can be issued by a magistrate to a police officer where a police officer or doctor has already been authorized under the Mental Health Act to detain someone, or take them to a hospital or somewhere else. This warrant can only be issued if the authorised person gives evidence to the Magistrate that there is reasonable cause that the person they are authorised to move is to be found on premises within the Magistrate’s area, and that the authorised person has been, or fears being, refused entry to the premises. A police officer acting on this kind of warrant may take an authorised person or any doctor with him during entry, but is not obliged to do so.
Both forms of warrant permit entry by force if necessary, and will allow the police officer to take the person to a place of safety. Neither warrant needs to name the person who the police officer wishes to find.