Blogs from Police &   
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Police: PaCA – No Children in Police Stations

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

This blog is part of the series which will cover, in detail, the amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 within the Policing and Crime Act 2017.  For background to the series, see the introductory post which outlines why I’m doing this and what other specific issues will be covered concerning laws that will come in to effect in the next few months.  Current Home Office estimations of timescales suggest early May – but this is subject to a number of factors which may change.

One specific amendment to the Mental Health Act 1983 which will be with us shortly: it will no longer be lawful to hold children in police stations as a Place of Safety under the Act – ever!  The legal amendment in s81 PaCA on this is a simple one: the MHA will read, “A child may not, in the exercise of a power to which this section applies, be removed to, kept at or taken to a place of safety that is a police station.” (Section 136A of the Act, as it will be amended.)

Here are two particular points on this amendment –

Police: The PaCA Series

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

At some stage in the next few months, the Part IV of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 will be subject to a commencement order in Parliament which brings in amendments to Part X of the Mental Health Act 1983 – this part of the MHA relates, amongst other things, to police powers under the Act.  The MHA itself has been amended and updated many times over recent years: by the Care Act 2014, by the Mental Health Act 2007, by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and many other frameworks, but Part X has remained more-or-less untouched, certainly in terms of the substantive role and responsibilities of the police.  Indeed, sections 135/6 of the Mental Health Act 1983 were carried over almost entirely untouched from the Mental Health Act 1959.  So the commencement order we will see at some stage soon represents the first time in almost sixty years that police powers and responsibilities have been changed – since the decade where Buddy Holly was singing live music and where him doing so represented a series threat to those who much preferred hearing of pink...

Continues,

Police: Need an Appropriate Adult?

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

Several discussions and questions recently about Appropriate Adults (AA) in police custody for vulnerable people that I want to quickly cover. In case you’re not aware, an Appropriate Adult is someone who, according to the Codes of Practice to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 must be called to police custody for anyone under the age of 18yrs or anyone who is ‘mentally disordered or otherwise mentally vulnerable’. They must be present for legal rights being administered, police interviews about the allegations and various other things. Al sounds straight-forward enough, doesn’t it?!  You can just imagine the booking in procedure where the custody sergeant tells the arresting officer, “He’s only 17yrs old, get an appropriate adult on the phone and ask them to come down here.”  Usually this will be the person’s parent or guardian and if there is no-one available, you can ring children’s social services as there is a statutory duty to act as an AA for someone who cannot otherwise be supported.

There are two major...

Continues,

Police: The Restraint Document

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

Since September 2014, when I started at the College of Policing, we have been working on the development of a document about those situations where the police are called to a mental health unit and asked to do something coercive.  I’ve been on mental health wards many times, as an operational police officer: calls to investigate and potentially prosecute patients for alleged assaults or damage; requests to assist in restraining patients so nursing staff can administer medication; requests to assist in moving a person from one part of a mental health unit to another … or even to move them to an entirely different mental health unit. As a probationary PC, my colleagues and I were called in to the old All Saints’ Hospital in Winson Green in Birmingham to a range of things where disorder and distress were manifest and the police were being asked to help.

These issues are as important as they are sensitive: we know that we don’t want to over-police anyone, least of vulnerable people already detained in hospital at a difficult time in...

Continues,

Police: Training and Collaboration

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

If we look around the world at policing and mental health issues, it doesn’t matter whether we are looking at the incident-specific tragedies we read about or the wider issues raised by taking a broader overview: we only ever hear of two solutions in response to whatever we think problem is —

  • Training – the idea that if only police officers were better trained, outcomes and encounters would be very different. They need more ‘awareness’ training about various mental health conditions, de-escalation techniques and alternatives to detention that may be available locally.
  • Collaboration – the idea that if only the police and mental health services only work more closely together. And in real time, then we would also see improved outcomes and encounters because more appropriate people are then dealing with people in crisis, with police support to their decision-making.

I’m unconvinced, quite honestly. There is some obvious, intuitive merit to these ideas – my point is not to dismiss how important they are – but I wonder if...

Continues,

Police: Regulation 28 Reports

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

In December, I spent a very enjoyable afternoon absorbed in reading the detail of a twenty-odd page judgment from a Coroner’s Court. It followed a situation where a man walked out of an ED Department and ended his life on a railway line not too far away from the hospital. The Coroner had no concerns about the police response to the report that he had left the ED, because there was no real way of knowing where he had headed towards and it is known he had died by suicide so soon after leaving that it would have taken quite unlikely luck for officers to have stumbled across him. The real interest in the judgment was the way in which the Coroner looked at the nursing and medical staff in ED – how did they triage the suicidal risk the man posed, how did they communicate and react; what more could have been done?

I’ve just read a newspaper article from Exeter following another recent Coroner’s finding. A patient who was admitted to a medical ward after an acute asthma attack was assessed for mental health problems whilst on the ward and...

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Police: Three Months … and Counting!

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

This year, the Mental Health Act 1983 will change. It will be amended (during April, we think) by the Policing and Crime Act 2017* and by the time we sit here early next year, we will know far more about how we’ve coped with it all, but there are plenty of indicators around that we are not at all prepared for or sighted on these changes. So with three months to go ’til this all kicks in, it seems timely to loudly re-bang the drum lest we risk seeing police forces and mental health services having some really difficult conversations at 0337hrs on some Tuesday morning in early May. I’m nervous about all of this, quite frankly. Some areas are struggling under current laws and these amendments only make things far harder for the organisations involved. However, they should make things much better for the public and that, of course, is exactly the point – we’re talking about the liberty of vulnerable people here!

For the avoidance of doubt, the amendments to the Mental Health Act are almost exactly as they were
Continues,

Police: More Assaults on NHS Staff

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

A short post, because it’s just updated data on topics I’ve written about before, where the same issues prevail.  NHS Protect issued its 2015/16 data for assaults on NHS staff and the headlines are –

  • Assaults are up by over 2,500 to 70,555 in the last full year.
  • That covers the whole NHS: the figures further break down to –
  • 52,704 assaults involved what NHS Protect calls ‘medical factors‘ – see below.
  • 17,851 assaults did not involved medical factors.
  • MH professionals are two, three or four times more likely to be assaulted at work than the ‘average’ for the NHS as a whole.
  • I’m not sure we know how many NHS patients were assaulted, whether by other patients or by NHS staff (yes, it does happen). NHS Protect don’t record (or at least don’t appear to publish) those data.

Within the various sectors of the NHS –

  • 46,107 assaults occured within the mental health sector of the NHS – 35,440 of those involving ‘medical factors’.
  • 2,300 assaults occured within the ambulance sector – 712 involving ‘medical...

    Continues,

Police: Twenty Seventeen

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

Some thoughts ahead of the New Year, after sitting recently and wondering where on earth we’ll be with things by Christmas 2017! —


Firstly, Commander Christine JONES QPM, the National Police Chief’s Council lead on mental health will be retiring in early 2017 after a distinguished career. She has been the NPCC lead on mental health for the last four years and was a driving force behind the existence of the Crisis Care Concordat which was published in 2014. A fierce supporter of the operational officers who face and take tough decisions every day, often whilst finding themselves in far-from-ideal contexts, I know that she has challenged partner organisations around the extent to which commissioning and fragmentation in health contributes to the extent to which the police service is called upon. What some perhaps haven’t seen is how challenging she is within the service to improve the leadership, oversight and knowledge of the detail around this area.

I remember in 2013 being asked to assist Kent Police with their early work around...

Continues,

Police: A Theory of Stuff

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

I had a recent conversation about a policing and mental health issue, relating to the role the police may play on inpatient psychiatric wards where nursing staff are seeking support for some restrictive intervention under the MHA. In passing summary of the relevant legal issues at play during such requests, I said, “It’s the responsibility of healthcare providers to plan and prepare to mitigate foreseeable risks connected with their activities; and it is the role of the officers to investigate allegations of crime and to respond to serious risks which arise from unforeseen circumstances which have gone awry to the point where safety is seriously compromised.”

This has become more or less my standard summary of the work we’ve been doing under the chairmanship of Lord CARLILE CBE QC, which should emerge early next year. I usually add one further point: “Where the police do attend because of unforeseen or more serious risks, it is their role to create safe conditions within which healthcare staff can re-take control of the restrictive...

Continues,

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