MHA assessment at private home

I have a rather basic and practical query. A patient is reported to be psychotic with v worrying delusions about his mother with whom he lives. Professionals visit to assess under the MHA. Mother is v frightened and gives more info about patient’s delusional system which puts her at significant risk from him. But patient refuses to speak to staff and locks himself in the bathroom. What options are available to the assessors - apart from negotiating through the bathroom door or hoping he goes outside when they can use S 136?

Initial thoughts are that s136 won’t necessarily provide any additional authority in the street, unless the person is evidently in immediate need of care and control as a result of a mental disorder. I’d have some significant doubts whether a police officer would make an arrest decision purely on the basis of 3rd-party information, without some corroborating evidence.
Also, no authority to take action in the house without a s135(1) warrant, unless the police have sufficient evidence to use s17 PACE, which doesn’t sound like the case given the information provided.
There may be evidence to apply for s135(1) warrant, even if the team can gain access to the property (warrants only being used to gain access was once a widely held myth, but I think the broader application of them is now better understood).
But that will take time. Unless there is evidence of immediate risk of life or limb, it would seem that removal of the mother from the property while a warrant is sought would be the safest option.

It’s his bathroom and he can sit in it if he wants to - unless there is a crime, breach of the peace or threat to life, there’s pretty much no legal basis to interfere with his Article 8 rights.

Unless the context gives rise to a basis for an application, a section 135(1) warrant would be required, really because even if his mother gave consent for damage to be caused to enter the bathroom in the absence of a legal power to do so, there’s still no basis for dealing with his refusal to engage - he’s not obliged to do so.

Warrants can, when the stars align be obtained in an hour in emergencies. I’ve had this situation in reality - albeit a bedroom, not a bathroom. That’s how it was resolved on that occasion.

Thanks Michael and Steve. Michael - you mention “threat to life”. May I take this scenario one step further and ask what could be done if the patient shouts from the bathroom something like “Mum, you are the devil and you need to die. I have a razor and I will get you tonight!” I won’t take this any further except to say this scenario is a composite of several real life situations I’ve come across lately.

Apologies for the delay, only saw your subsequent supplementary when browsing the site today:

Depends whether or not the situation amounts to a “threat to kill” as to whether police pwoers of arrest could be triggered by that kind of comment. TTK offence occurs where someone is literally threatening to kill someone in a way that is intended to be believed, essentially. If the patient’s mother were in such fear, then the offence is made out on the face of it because your quotation involves death, mention of means and intention.

In that situation, I’d consider arrest to protect the victim from the threat and this would afford the police a power of entry to the bathroom in order to make that arrest. But all cases turn on merits, so if the threat were more generalised (“I’m going to get you later”) and for example without mention of death / weapons, it might be harder to argue it is a TTK. Other offences might be relevant, but whether they are would turn on the specifics.

Does that help?!


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