Policing & Mental Health

One aspect of the Strategic Command Course is to look at a big policy issue  for policing.  I’m in a group of 8 looking at the following question set by Chief Constable Simon Cole.

The Question

The long term reduction in spending on policing is already raising questions about how far the police role stretches beyond narrowly cutting crime.  Using the particular challenges of police involvement in mental health cases, outline how forces should reconcile what has been the wider mission of policing over recent years with changed economic conditions while staying faithful to core values?

 As a group we’ve held 3 quick meetings so far and identified these key issues.

  • Local practices that really work
    • Identifying evidence based local practices that should be replicated nationally
  • Partnerships that make a difference
    • Identifying the components of successful mental health partnerships from national and international experience
  • Future challenges
    • Forecasting ahead to identify opportunities to intervene and influence earlier
  • Culture
    • Identifying cultural barriers and enablers – what will really make our fail or succeed?

Between now and the end of February the team will suggest ways to make progress in each of these areas, and then draft a plan for changing the policing approach to mental health.  This will include fresh ideas on how to continue to build momentum on this important subject for the Service and make real and lasting changes to local practice.

We also want to capture the interest and support of as many people as we can.  We’ve got some academic advisors and have started research in our own organisations and others.  We don’t care where the ideas come from and we’d love to hear from people who are passionate about this subject and want to help.

I’m sure you’ll agree this is an ambitious topic, so please spread the word, share this widely and let us know what you think.  Your views will be much appreciated.


9 responses to “Policing & Mental Health

  1. This is a big job boss, involving the mental health services and the criminal justice system. My experience is in our area that it is largely the same people s136 over and over again. I feel if this is happening there is a failure somwhere. Is it the police? Should we be putting them before the courts instead for whatever offences they commit? But then seemingly never charged as deemed not in the public interest. If they were perhaps the courts could impose treatment.
    I have also been to jobs and secam will not attend an address due to repeated calls so they call police instead and we always attend and take them to a and e much to their annoyance! This needs inter service coordination and police are not involved. Hopfully MentalHealthCop will be able to fill this out more on a strategic level.

    • Sir
      From a management perpective can your organization even produce meaningful figures so you can measure the problem?
      For example exactly how many section136 are done by your officers? Not just the ones taken to custody suites? How many times do your officers take people for voluntary assessment? How many times do your officers deploy for concerns for safety called in by MH services rather than attend themselves and call if they are faced with an uncontrollable situation?
      How many times are ambulance called to transport sec136 to comply with codes of practice?

  2. Currently seconded from police to NHS as liaison officer. Tackling this problem head on locally . Greater collaboration and appreciation of powers / procedures is essential . A partnership approach and recognised responsibility from partner agencies is key. The time spent locating missing persons from places of safety, the treatment they miss , the stress to families is completely underestimated . Legislation and principle powers of both agencies do not cplwnt each other either

  3. Pingback: The Strategic Command Course « MentalHealthCop·

  4. Gavin, good to hear you are looking to see what’s out there in terms of new thinking on policing and MH I’ve got a couple of comments from myself as an ACC Specialist Ops informed by conversations with my wife who is a pyschotherapist.
    First off – Defining MH is in itself a challenge highligted recently when the US Governing body on all matters of the mind classed ‘badly behaved children’ as a form of mh . I heard the UK response on 5 live and I think the sensible view lies somewhere between the two. My interest is looking at how MH affects vulnerable groups and cuts across our high intensive users – offenders , victims , workforce etc. In this sense I can see the conversation in policing mainly focusing on the crisis end because traditionally thats where cops get involved
    Ahead of teh curve is partnership effort recognising that literacy, ADHD , etc etc can lead to increased risk of harm and criminalisation. Just on womens offending we see high % of those in custody presenting MH issues and Domestic abuse victimisation – we must start to understand these connections or we will forever be thinking crisis intervention not crisis prevention.

    Second off – look at TRIPLE DIVIDEND nd more recentlt THE DECIDING TIME. David Robinson makes the argument for early action , he is a great guy working out of his own community hub in London and advising Govt early intervention task force – great read and pulls togetehr a range of issues for cops to consider ‘is this part of our mission to get involved upstream?’

    I’d say yes it is , it’s our duty and consistent with our values – there is a business and a moral case

    Andy Rhodes Lancashire

  5. MH leads would be likely to benefit enormously from the AMHP course content, which includes in depth law, policy guidance, as well as drugs and effects, mental disorders etc. Content rather than undertaking the assessed course.
    The AMHP often is the best ‘expert’ on MH law to whom any officer will have ready access, but thisis in my view often overlooked by Police in situations where there is a misunderstanding of obligations, powers and options. The possible reasons are many, but may include officers not recognising the expertise of the AMHP in MH, or not wishing to take advice on unfamiliar issues from a non officer. This may help address both, and cut officer time spent dealing with MH issues.

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