Key messages

  • The Act enables ‘authorised persons’ to enter premises, apprehend people, search, use reasonable force and bodily restraint for the purpose of transporting people to a designated mental health service in prescribed circumstances.
  • Authorised persons are ambulance paramedics, police officers, medical practitioners employed by a designated mental health service and mental health practitioners.

The Act enables authorised persons to enter premises, apprehend people, and use reasonable force and bodily restraint to transport people to a designated mental health service in prescribed circumstances.

Authorised persons are ambulance paramedics, police officers, medical practitioners employed by a designated mental health service and mental health practitioners.

Authorised persons

An authorised person may enter premises, apprehend people and transport them to a designated mental health service or any other place with the use of reasonable force and bodily restraint in prescribed circumstances, for example:

  • where a person is subject to an Inpatient Assessment Order, Inpatient Temporary Treatment Order or Inpatient Treatment Order and required to be taken to a designated mental health service
  • where a person is apprehended under section 351 of the Act and police either take the person to a designated mental health service or request ambulance to transport the person, accompanied by police
  • where a patient is absent without leave from a designated mental health service.

Entering premises

The Act enables an authorised person to enter premises in order to apprehend a person who is required to be taken to a designated mental health service or any other place.

An authorised person may:

  • enter any premises at which the authorised person has reasonable grounds for believing that the person is
  • apprehend the person for the purpose of the person being taken to a designated mental health service.

Before an authorised person enters any premises, the authorised person must:

  • announce to any person at or in the premises that they are authorised to enter
  • state the basis of the authority to enter
  • give any person at or in the premises an opportunity to permit the authorised person to enter the premises.

On entering the premises, an authorised person must, to the extent that is reasonable in the circumstances –

  • identify themself to the person being apprehended,
  • explain to the person why they are being apprehended, and
  • tell the person where they will be taken.

An authorised person may use reasonable force to enter the premises if they are not permitted entry.

Apprehension and transport

People with mental illness may need to be taken to or from a designated mental health service under a provision of the Mental Health Act 2014.

When this happens, transport should be provided by the least restrictive means possible. In many cases people can be safely transported by private car, in a mental health service vehicle or by non-emergency patient transport. However where this is not safe, Ambulance Victoria is responsible for providing transport.

Police also have a role in transport, either in conjunction with other transport providers or to provide transport where a person cannot be safely transported by other means.

The Act sets out who can apprehend and transport people with a mental illness and the actions they can take.

People may need to be transported in the following circumstances:

  • where a person is subject to an Inpatient Assessment Order, Inpatient Temporary Treatment Order or Inpatient Treatment Order to enable the person to be taken to a designated mental health service
  • where a person is apprehended under section 351 of the Act and police either take the person to a designated mental health service or request ambulance to transport the person, accompanied by police
  • where a patient is absent without leave from a designated mental health service.

Authorised persons – use of bodily restraint

Bodily restraint’ is defined in the Mental Health Act 2014 as ‘a form of physical or mechanical restraint that prevents a person having free movement of his or her limbs.

An authorised person may use bodily restraint on a person who is being transported if:

  • all reasonable and less restrictive options have been tried or considered and have been found to be unsuitable
  • it is needed to prevent serious and imminent harm to the person or to another person.

Authorised persons - search

An authorised person may search a person who is being taken to or from a designated mental health service or any other place.

An authorised person may search a person before the person is transported if they suspect that the person is carrying anything that:

  • presents a danger to health and safety of the person or another person, or
  • could be used to assist the person to escape.

Before conducting the search, the police officer must explain the purpose of the search to the person to the extent that is reasonable in the circumstances.

The power to search includes:

  • quickly running hands over the person’s outer clothing (a‘pat-down’ search) or passing an electronic metal device over or close to the person’s outer clothing
  • requiring the person to remove their overcoat, coat or jacket and any gloves, shoes or hat and examining those items of clothing
  • requiring the person to empty their pockets or allow their pockets to be searched.

The authorised person must inform the person being searched:

  • whether they will be required to remove clothing during the search
  • why it is necessary to remove the person’s clothing.

An authorised person must ask for the person’s cooperation.

An authorised person must conduct the search:

  • in a way that provides reasonable privacy for the person searched
  • as quickly as is reasonably practicable
  • if the person being searched is 16 years or younger, the search must be in the presence of a parent or, if a parent is not reasonably available, another adult.

An authorised person must conduct the least invasive kind of search practicable in the circumstances.

A pat down search must be conducted by:

  • an authorised person of the same sex as the person searched or
  • a person of the same sex as the person searched under the direction of the authorised person.

Seizure

An authorised person may seize and detain a thing found as a result of a search if the authorised person is reasonably satisfied that the thing:

  • presents a danger to the health and safety of the person or another person, or
  • could be used to assist the person to escape.

If a thing is seized and detailed the authorised person must make a written record that:

  • specifies the thing seized and detained
  • specifies the name of the person from whom the thing was seized and detained
  • specifies the date on which the thing was seized and detained, and
  • includes any other prescribed details.

An authorised person must give the following seized items to police as soon as practicable:

  • prohibited or controlled weapons
  • a drug of dependence or a substance, material, document or equipment used for the purpose of trafficking in a drug of dependence
  • fire arms
  • any thing that the authorised person believes would present a danger to the health and safety of the person or another person if it was returned.

The authorised person must ensure that other items are stored for safekeeping so that the items can be returned to the person when it is safe to do so.