NHS Safe & Secure 136 Assessment and MH Seclusion Rooms


The Athelney Group Ltd are the makers of the Vulnerable Person Room® (VPR). This is a flat packed, cost effective solution for the safe and secure holding of persons, held subject to law, who may present a risk of danger to themselves or others, and who therefore need to be accommodated in a unit specifically designed to offer enhanced levels of physical security. The VPU is such a unit.

The Athelney Group VPR is built using a patented interlocking system of panels that combine to create a safe, secure ligature free room. Due to its unique and modular design it can be convert existing rooms containing risks at a fraction of the cost of full traditional strip out and refurbishment of existing spaces.

The Athelney Group VPR has been designed with safety and security at the forefront but also with wellbeing and comfort in mind. Each VPR is built to a client’s specifications and in the health environment can include a bench for rest and sleeping, a toilet, seating for interviews and assessments. Each VPR includes CCTV and audio recording, mood lighting and comes in a range of calming colours. It is safe, secure and ligature free.

The VPU is suitable for the following uses in a health care based environment:

  • Section 136 Assessment Rooms
  • Seclusion Rooms; and
  • De-escalation Rooms

Due to its unique and patented ‘flat packed’ or modular design the VPR can be installed into existing space. The streamlined production process means that units can be deliver in as little as 6 weeks from order with rarely need for significant building projects and the costs involved in standard construction methods.

As a result of the case of Webley v St Georges NHS Trust, changes to the definition of a place of safety and changes of police practices concerning management of Section 135 and 136 Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) cases; there is a growing need for hospitals to improve the reception, management, security and assessment of patients detained under the Mental Health Act.

It should be noted that individuals detained under sections 135 and 136 of the Act have already been arrested and assessed as being a potential risk to themselves and others and the law requires that they be detained pending assessment and on-going health care.

There is an identified need for acute hospitals to be able to provide safe and secure rooms and environments to protect service users, staff and other patients and other users of the hospital services.

The Quality Care Commission report (A safer place to be 2014) stated that in their review, Mental Health Trusts did not believe that there was enough local provision of health based places of safety and that police stations across the country were the default position for those detained under Sections 135 and 136 of the MHA. The VPU is a solution for the NHS to this crisis where a person can be treated and protected in a health based environment.

The installation of an Athelney Group Vulnerable Person Room will provide a safe and secure “place of safety” whilst the mental health needs of the service user are assessed under the Mental Health Act and any necessary arrangements should be made for the service users on-going care. The VPU offers and environment that is safe for the service user, staff and visitors.

The VPR has been developed as a short-term solution that will allow risk assessments to be undertaken, mental health assessments to be conducted and care pathways developed. It is not designed for long term holding, however it is designed to provide a safe and secure and hospitable environment to protect all concerned.

The VPR offers a hospital or NHS Trust unit the conditions of enhanced security for the detention of patients that present a danger to themselves or others.

Safe and Secure Room Solutions

Almost the entire interior of the VPR can be viewed from the front. This provides for close visual monitoring for safety and assessment purposes, in addition it reduces the potential claustrophobic feeling that enclosed spaces can generate.

In the case of Webley[1] the judge stated (where there is no secure environment available) that the minimum requirement of staff for the management and security of a service users in a section 136 situation was for 3 security staff to be within arm’s reach. This is impractical in most hospitals where staff numbers are low and there are other responsibilities to undertake. The gathering of the assessment team can take several hours and it is natural for security staff to easily become demotivated and distracted as the video evidence in Webley clearly showed.

In addition, the ‘guarding’ of a potentially violent or aggressive service user is stressful on the staff themselves. The use of the VPR would reduce the staffing requirement and it would support the following needs:

  • The best interest of the service user;
  • The best interests of staff; and

The best interests of other service users in the adjacent hospital areas such as the ED.

Anticipated Benefits:

The VPR provides a safe and secure room within a room as directed. The VPU will be ligature free and be constructed to the highest standards including but not exclusive to BS, CE and ISO 9001.

The CCTV and audio recording system will allow the client to remotely monitor the service user activity in the room. This will increase the safety of the service user and staff. It would also assist in any post incident reviews or investigations and the recorded material could be used to rebut allegations of mistreatment or other allegations.

The unique aspect of the product is its flat packed design and that it is standalone and not dependent of large capital build construction processes. It can be installed within any appropriate existing space.

The use of the VPR will aid a reduction of the 69,000 assaults and injuries to staff that occur each year through interaction with violent or aggressive service users.

Quality Definition:

The VPU will be constructed to meet BS, CE and ISO 9001 standards of manufacture and the components will be the individual quality standards as shown on the specifications sheets.

The VPU can be supplied in any colour to the client’s specifications and will comply with the following:

  • the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (updated 2001) [1.23];
  • BS 8300: 2001 ‘Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people. Code of practice’ [1.24];
  • the Building Regulations. Approved Document M: Access and facilities for disabled people, 1999 [1.25];
  • the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 (updated 2000) [1.26].


    The VPU is scalable, flexible and recoverable. Even if a client’s requirements change and they relocate services, the VPU can be disassembled and rebuilt in a new location.

    It is completely vandal proof and ligature free.

    It can be built to the size of your choice and can convert existing risk filled spaces into safe and secure rooms that manage the risks and protect users and staff.

    The VPU can be produced and supplied to be held in stock by the client to be built when needed to cover shortage of facilities or while refurbishment of other spaces takes place. The Athelney Group can provide instruction for staff to allow tursts to manage the builds themselves.

    An important feature is that the VPU is available immediately, no planning permission is required and that the VPU is a low-cost solution compared to traditional built structures.

    For further information contact The Athelney Group at info@athelneygroup.com

    Please visit our website at www.athelneygroup.com



[1] Webley v St Georges NHS Trust and the Metropolitan Police 2010