NHS
A bed has been found for the teenager who was held in custody.Getty

A teenage girl with mental health problems, who was kept in police cells for two days due to a lack of available NHS beds has been found a place to stay.

Devon and Cornwall Police assistant chief constable Paul Netherton highlighted the "unacceptable" situation after the unidentified 16-year-old girl was held in custody after being detained on 27 November and sectioned the following day.

Mr Netherton told BBC News the girl had been arrested at Torbay Hospital on Thursday after a breach of the peace and sectioned under the Mental Health Act on Friday because she was "obviously very unwell".

He turned to Twitter for assistance stating: "We have a 16yr old girl suffering from mental health issues held in police custody.

"Custody on a Fri & Sat night is no place for a child suffering mental health issues. Nurses being sourced to look after her in custody !?!" he added.

Confirming that the girl would be moved on Saturday night, a spokesperson for NHS England said: "After details were provided to NHS England about the girl and her condition, a place was found locally within a few hours. We are grateful for the help of the NHS in the area in identifying the place.

"It is worth noting that mental health crisis services have been expanding so that the number of people ending up in police cells is in fact down - but clearly more needs to be done."

Following the news, Netherton later tweeted: "Just heard that a place of care has been found for our 16yr old. Good result."

According to the officer, 750 mental health patients had been placed in police cells across Devon and Cornwall so far this year.

Shadow health minister Luciana Berger described the teenager's predicament as "an appalling reflection of the crisis in mental health services".

"People shouldn't face the indignity of being kept in police cells when they are at their most vulnerable," she said.

"Someone going through a physical health emergency would never be treated this way, so why should it be acceptable for people experiencing a mental health crisis?"

A damning report by the Commons health select committee, which described young people's mental health service as "unfit" highlighted a "wholly unacceptable" practice by which children sectioned under the Mental Health Act are being held in police cells, due to the lack of beds.

Commenting on the lack of services for people with mental health problems Mark Winstanley, chief executive of mental health charity Rethink, said: "Each year thousands of people with serious mental health problems are being held in police cells, including many children and teenagers, because the right services either don't exist in their community or are completely overstretched.

"Many people are being turned away from places of safety, because of staff shortages or lack of spaces. In some parts of the country, there are no health-based places of safety full-stop. As a result, people end up being held in police stations, or are simply left to fend for themselves. This has to change, as it's costing lives."