Absconder from s136 - does the clock stop?!

Question about someone who absconds from detention under s136 MHA (or s135(1) MHA, for that matter) whilst at a Place of Safety. If someone is retaken within the 24hrs permitted period of detention, did the clock stop whilst they were absconded?! —

  • Let’s imagine someone arrives a PoS, 1000hrs on Monday
  • Absconds 1100hrs on Monday
  • Re-detained at 0800 on Tuesdsay
  • Arrives back at the PoS 0900hrs on Tuesday.

Is there 1hr left on the clock (time remaining until the original 24hrs is up) or 23hrs left (time that was remaining at the point where they absconded). I’d always had it in my head that the clock stops but having recently faced the question I could not think what aspect of law gives the basis for this view. Having been re-reading all afternoon, I still can’t find a basis for thinking the clock stops, so I’m guessing in the above situation, there is just 1hr remaining.

Any views?!

(Yes, consideration to extend s136B could come in to it in some situations, but not all so let’s assume I’m asking about a situation where it could not be extended, such as MHA assessment complete before absconding but no bed to admit the person.)

Thanks for any help,


I guess practically how can they be assessed if they have not been at the placement for 22 hours because they absconded.

Also would it depend if the police reused their power. I’m not sure how it works from a police side. If it was a fresh application of 136 then it would start again

Hi Michael, it’s in section 138(3)(b) where it states that after escaping, the person cannot be retaken after the expiry of the allowed period of detention; meaning that the clock does not stop.


Scenarios isn’t about re-use of s136, it’s about re-detaining someone under s138 who has absconded from s136.

All consensus seems to be the clock doesn’t stop, which is also how I’m reading it. As for what happens when someone returns if there’s only limited time remaining: who knows?!