Police Encounters with the Mentally Ill: The Role of the Crisis Intervention Service



With the advent of new drug regimes in the 1950s more and more mentally ill patients found themselves being discharged from long-term incarceration in hospital. In 1961 this policy of deinstitutionalisation became official when Enoch Powell, the then Minister of Health, suggested that the majority of longstay mental hospitals should be closed. As a result, the number of patients housed in long-stay hospitals in England and Wales fell from about 150,000 in the mid-1950s to 60,000 by the beginning of 1992. In March 1992, it was reported that 60 of the remaining 90 psychiatric hospitals were planned for closure over the next five years. The policy of deinstitutionalisation clearly has further mileage. Indeed, the ‘twinning’ of deinstitutionalisation with the development of community care initiatives has, in large part, served to justify the closure of psychiatric hospitals and the discharge of their patients.


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© Mike Stephens 1994

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