Section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983

I have committed a crime and been sent to hospital under s37 of the Mental Health Act. Why am I being held?

This Section allows a Court to send you to hospital for treatment (or to make you subject to Guardianship) when otherwise the outcome may have been a prison sentence. This hospitalisation will be instead of imprisonment, a fine or probation. The reason for this is that, under the advice of two doctors, the Court believe that:

  • You have at least one of the four types of mental disorder;
  • It is appropriate for you to be detained in hospital for medical treatment and that the treatment is likely to alleviate or prevent a deterioration of your condition;
  • That this Order was the suitable way of dealing with your case bearing in mind all the relevant matters, and
  • That a hospital is willing and able to admit you within 28 days.

NB: You may also find that the Court had attached a Section 41 Order to your current Section 37 Order. More information on this topic can be found under the heading ‘questions relating to Section 41 Restriction Orders’.

How long will I be here? Can I leave?

You will be kept in hospital for 6 months at first so that you can be given the treatment you need. If the doctor thinks you need to stay longer, he will speak to you and then apply to have the Section extended for another 6 months, and then annually from there on in.

You must not leave unless a doctor tells you that you can, if you try to leave without permission the staff are authorised to stop you and if you do leave you can be taken back to the hospital.

What will happen next?

Your doctor will tell you when they think you are well enough to leave. They will then ask the Secretary of State for Justice to agree before they can discharge you. You will be provided with whatever treatment and/or medication is believed to be beneficial for you at this time and you will be kept informed about your progress.

Can I appeal?

Yes you can. You can ask the Court to look at your case again. If you want to do this you must act quickly and would require a solicitor to help you. If you would like help in taking this course of action please contact us immediately. As this order has been made by the Court your nearest relative WILL NOT be able to discharge you as they can with other Sections.

After your ‘hospital order’ has been in place for 6 months, you can also appeal by applying for a Mental Health Review Tribunal. This would give you, or a person who represents you (such as a solicitor), the opportunity to explain your wish for a discharge from hospital in front of your doctor, their medical team and a panel of independent advisors.

Guardianship under Section 37

Section 37 also allows a Court to place someone under Guardianship. The Guardian may be your local services authority or a person appointed by social services, appointed for your welfare or for the protection of other persons. Your Guardian has legal powers to tell you: 

  • Where you must live;
  • To attend appointments for medical treatment, work, education or training at set places at set times; and
  • To allow a doctor or other named person to see you.

If you have any further questions or require advice please contact us on 01733 882800 or by using the link below.


Andrew Cave