Duty to inquire into individual cases
60.Section 33(1) places a duty on local authorities to inquire into situations where an adult patient in its area may be at risk (see subsection (2) for the circumstances). Under section 34, local authorities may, where it is necessary for, or would assist, such inquiries, seek the co-operation of Health Boards, the Commission, the Public Guardian or the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care.
61.Section 35 confers powers on a sheriff or justice of the peace, which support the carrying out of inquiries under section 33. A relevant mental health officer may seek a warrant for any of a range of purposes which may be relevant to the inquiry: to enter premises and open lock-fast places; to detain a person for 3 hours for the purpose of a medical examination; or for a medical practitioner to have access to a person’s medical records. Such an examination could be a preliminary to emergency detention or short-term detention under Parts 5 and 6 respectively.
62.Where a warrant is granted or refused, the mental health officer who applied for it must notify the Commission (subsection (10)). There is no appeal available against the decision of the sheriff or justice of the peace.
63.The meaning of “relevant mental health officer” for the purposes of this section depends on which warrant is being obtained (see subsection (12)).