Summary of the detaining sections

The most common sections which you will come across in practice are sections 2, 3, 37, 37/41, and 47/49. These, together with other detaining sections, are summarised briefly below.

Section 2: admission for assessment

This is a civil section for assessment (or for assessment followed by treatment). Two doctors must make the recommendation, and the application is then made by an AMHP. It lasts for a maximum of 28 days and cannot be extended. At any time during the s2, the patient can be put on s3; otherwise, detention expires at midnight on the 28th day. See Section 2: admission for assessment.

Section 3: admission for treatment

This is the long-term civil section. An AMHP makes an application for admission, based on the recommendations of two medical practitioners. The initial period for which detention is authorised is six months, but it can be renewed by the RC for a further six months, then for further periods of 12 months. See Section 3: admission for treatment.

Section 4: emergency admission for assessment

Section 4 is used when it is of urgent necessity for the patient to be admitted and detained under section 2 (s4(2)). It is similar to s2, but differences include that only one medical recommendation is required, and it lasts up to 72 hours. See Section 4: emergency admission for assessment.

Section 5: holding powers

A nurse of the specified class may detain certain inpatients for up to 6 hours, and a doctor may detain inpatients for up to 72 hours. See Section 5: holding powers.

Section 7: guardianship

This is not a detaining section but is included here for ease of reference. See Section 7: guardianship.

Section 17A: Community Treatment Order

See Community Treatment Order.

Section 37: hospital order

Either the Crown Court or magistrates court can impose a hospital order. It is usually given after conviction. The effect is largely the same as an admission under s3. See Section 37: hospital order.

Section 37/41: hospital order with restrictions

The restrictions under section 41 may be given only by the Crown Court. The restrictions relate to renewal, leave, transfer, discharge and other matters. See Section 37/41: hospital order with restrictions.

Section 38: interim hospital order

An interim hospital order is a temporary hospital order made under s38 in the case of person convicted of an imprisonable offence other than murder, where there is evidence that it may be appropriate for a hospital order under s37 to be made. See Section 38: interim hospital order.

Section 47: transfer direction (from prison)

A prisoner can be transferred to hospital under s47. Under s47(3) he will be treated as if subject to a s37 hospital order - so s47 on its own is often informally called a "notional s37". A patient subject only to s47 cannot be transferred back to prison under the MHA. See Sections 47, 48 and 49: transferred prisoners.

Section 47/49: transfer with restrictions

A "restriction direction" under s49 made alongside a transfer direction is given in nearly all cases when moving a prisoner to hospital. The restrictions cease on the prisoner's release date, and then the patient is treated as if he had been detained under s47 on that date. See Sections 47, 48 and 49: transferred prisoners.

Section 45A: restriction direction

This is an order which the Crown Court can make at the same time as imposing a prison sentence (except where the sentence is fixed by law, i.e. murder) upon an offender who suffers from mental disorder: s45A(1),(2). A "limitation direction" must also be given: s45A(3). See Section 45A: hospital direction.

Notional s37

The term "notional s37" is not mentioned in the statute, but is a often used informally, including (1) when a patient is transferred under s47 but without a restriction direction under s49, or (2) where he was transferred under s47/49 but, on the release date, the restriction direction has ceased to have effect, he will be left with the s47 on its own and the notional s37 begins when the restrictions cease. See Notional s37.

Other sections

See the list on the All types of detention page.


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