§ Mr. Hinchliffe
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance is issued to police authorities with regard to police involvement in returning to hospital patients subject to compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act 1983 who have absconded.
§ Mr. John Patten
Section 18 of the Mental Health Act 1983 provides that where a patient who is liable to be detained in hospital absents himself without leave, he may be taken into custody and returned to the hospital by certain authorized persons, including any police constable. Home Office circular No. 35/1986—"Consolidated Circular to the Police on Crime and Kindred Matters." which was issued to all police forces on 30 December 1986, drew attention to this provision. Further information about it was contained in a memorandum on the 1983 Act issued by the Department of Health and Social Security in 1983.