July 2007 - Spotlight on Section 117 Services

Despite very clear guidance on charging for after care services especially in relation to s117 of the Mental Health Act, there still appears to be widespread confusion.

Aftercare services are not defined in the Act but would include social work support, advice & assistance, help with employment & training, provision of accommodation, domiciliary services and the use of day centres and residential facilities.


Both Health & Social Services have a duty under s117 to provide aftercare services until such time as it is agreed that such services are no longer needed.  The key point is that local authorities have no power to charge for services provided under s117.  However, there are still people being wrongly charged.  This is partly because in many cases, it is difficult to identify who is a s117 case and  who is not and it has been estimated that over half of the authorities in England & Wales have wrongly charged for aftercare services.


Local authorities have been advised that in such cases they must make financial restitution with interest where appropriate.  They have also been warned against making retrospective assessments to remove aftercare services from individuals in order to avoid making restitution.


In order to be clear who might be affected s117 will apply to persons who were detained under:

  • Section 3 – when admitted for treatment as opposed to admission for assessment whether or not accompanied by any treatment (section 2)
  • Section 37 – detained by order of a criminal court after being convicted of a criminal offence and the court is satisfied that at the time of the conviction the offender was suffering from a specific mental disorder
  • Section 45A – direction from a Crown Court that someone who suffers from a psychopathic disorder should be detained in a specific hospital
  • Section 47 – prisoners who are suffering from a specific mental disorder and as a consequence are removed and detained in a hospital


  • Section 48 – as section 47 above but applies to non-prisoners i.e. those on remand, civil prisoners or being detained under the Immigration Act 1971



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