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Police: Still Too Many Questions

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

I wrote last week about three separate process which had concluded after adverse events involving the police and their response to mental health calls. I mentioned the conclusion of the inquest in to the sad death of Joseph Phuong and couldn’t say much about it as details weren’t covered in the media. I heard about this case shortly after it happened, when discussing policing and mental health matters with the Metropolitan Police and had awaited the inquest, interested in the view that would be taken of how events had unfolded – but I was aware I didn’t know anything like the full picture and I still don’t. I don’t know whether the Coroner will issue a ‘Regulation 28’ Preventing Future Deaths report, but I would imagine, if it’s coming, it will be worth reading. The IPCC have also suggested they’d review whether or not they can publish their report in to the conduct of Metropolitan Police officers and I await that decision with equal interest because there seems more to reflect on in this case.

Last week’s post was...

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Police: PaCA – Place of Safety Options

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. This post is one of several which relates not the amendments themselves, but to the implications arising from them.

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 late November / early December – but this is subject to a number of factors and may change.


Under current law, a Place of Safety is “a hospital, a police station or anywhere else temporarily willing …” to receive the person. The definition has always allowed “anywhere” to qualify as a PoS, subject to the ‘temporarily willing’ part, but the grammar of this sentence has caused confusion. More than one A&E department has argued ‘temporarily willing’ also applies to hospitals acting as a Place of...

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Police: A Difficult and Complex Week

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

There will be a number of families and a number of police officers across the UK who have had a very difficult weekend of reflection – this has been a complicated and busy week in policing and mental health. Firstly, three West Midlands Police officers were cleared on Wednesday of perjury and perverting the course of justice in a criminal court trial which lasted a month, over six years after the death of Kingsley Burrell; then on Friday, six Metropolitan Police officers were cleared of gross misconduct in a disciplinary hearing chaired by an independent legal official and a non-Metropolitan Police chief officer; and finally on Friday afternoon, an inquest concluded in to the death of Joseph Phuong in south-west London after police officers used section 136 of the Mental Health Act and struggled to find any NHS building that would allow access for assessment of his condition. We’re still waiting on details to emerge on this last case and I’ll update once I know more.

Three men died in the care and control of the state: so the...

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Police: Mental Health Act Review

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

We learned this week of Professor Sir Simon Wessely’s appointment by the Prime Minister to review the Mental Health Act 1983 and since then, he has spoken to my boss, Chief Constable Mark Collins, to ensure the police contribute to the debate about the realities of our work, the problems and issues we face from a legal point of view. The boss asked me to start thinking of points to raise for discussion – not because we have any fixed view or are being asked to write any kind of Christmas list, but because there are probably certain debates we would hope Sir Simon’s review might address that affect policing and the broader emergency and mental health systems of which we form a small but important part.

So these are not final thoughts, proposals or demands! – it’s just a list of things I’ve recommended to Mr Collins that we ask Sir Simon’s team to consider finalising, one way or the other, amidst the much broader work that such a review must get in to. Police stuff is a growing and important, but nonetheless small part of the...

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Police: The Wessely Review

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

Yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced she has asked Professor Sir Simon Wessely to lead a review of the Mental Health Act 1983 and to report back by Autumn 2018 on what a new Mental Health Act may look like.  Sir Simon is a psychiatrist by background, professor of psychological medicine (especially working with our military) at the Institute of Psychiatry and Psychology, King’s College, London and he is the previous President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He is now the President of the Royal Society of Medicine, the first psychiatrist to hold that position and you can follow him on Twitter (see image, above) if you want to keep up to date with the MHA review, the progress of Chelsea FC and his various cycling holidays!

One or two comments on Twitter yesterday about the wisdom of appointing a doctor as the lead of a review of our laws: it hadn’t occurred to me to worry because having known Professor Wessely a few years, it seemed obvious to me one of the first things he’ll probably do is surround himself with the best...

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Police: Tenants and Lodgers

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

A man lives in his brothers home as a lodger, paying rent.  He has a bedroom of his own, but shares other facilities in the house with his brother’s family, including the bathroom, kitchen and lounge, etc., etc.. Because of concerns for his mental health, the landlord-brother invites mental health services in to his home to consider how to help his lodger-brother. Resistant to the idea of it, the man retreats to the safety of his own room and makes it clear he doesn’t want anyone to enter his bedroom and wants mental health services and the police to leave. Now, for the purposes of this blog, it doesn’t matter which of the two scenarios you want to consider this happening in –

  • No Mental Health Act assessment (MHAA) has occured so we’re wondering if a s135(1) warrant required to enter the room?
  • A MHAA has occured so it’s a question of whether a s135(2) warrant required to enter the room to remove the patient to hospital after the application is made?

I’m no kind of expert in housing law, as you might imagine! … I’m aware of the...

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Police: OK, Let’s Try This Again! …

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

Around nine months ago I started writing a series of BLOG posts, in the three-month build up to the introduction of the amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983, contained within the Policing and Crime Act 2017. The original idea was that the changes would kick in during May 2017 but you may remember a snap General Election got in the way of that and an outcome that probably wasn’t the expected outcome got in the way of a suggestion that the commencement order – a necessary Parliamentary process to bring the changes in to effect – might get concluded before the Summer recess for MPs. Parliament only reconvened in early September and we’ve already broken again for the political party conference season, so it’s now going to be October before the order can be introduced to the Commons. The jokes have started on social media about whether this will emerge during 2017!

So, despite everything and way more than half a year down the line from the posts, we are still in a position where we probably have three months...

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Police: Six Missed Chances

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

I want to ask you to put all your preconceptions to one side for the five minutes it will take to read this and for a short while afterwards. If you use the links below and read the Six Missed Chances report from the IPCC, which is published today and follows the death of James Herbert in Somerset in 2010, your instinct may be that some of it is not practical. I fully and freely admit, that was my instinct when I read a draft copy of it last year and I’ve had to really think about this because it’s challenging us to think again about whether we can think differently. I suspect and do understand some officers may wonder whether the IPCC actually understand police work at all or live in the real world – social media shows these questions are emerging as people read the media coverage that is coming out. I would suggest they read the report instead, because it’s not the longest thing of this type you’ll ever see.

A man died here – the report merely asks the service to think again about whether we could think or act differently: in how we...

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Police: Mark and the Mental Capacity Act

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

I didn’t watch the second episode of #Ambulance last night – I won’t bore you with the reasons why, but my iPad was flashing at me towards the end with people tagging me in conversations they were tweeting as they went – all questions about the story of “Mark and the Mental Capacity Act”. So I got it up on iPlayer and watched the final 15 minutes to see what the chat was all about, not least because the tweet I saw first read, “Watching #Ambulance on BBC1 and witness West Midlands Police refuse to attend to assist with Capacity Act … awful.” – and we’re back to the police again! But first things first: I’ve worked alongside West Midlands Ambulance Service for my whole career and I give freely of my own time to help train student paramedics at several universities – my respect for them is limitless. I thought this crew came across really well and it’s obvious that Maya in particular was trying to go the extra mile for this guy. Nothing that follows detracts from my respect for their humanity: it’s just...

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Police: Tricks and Tools

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

By working in a role that takes me around the country, I get to see the various differences that exist between police areas – and I don’t just mean the 43 police forces of England and Wales, but even more local than that.  I’m a West Midlands Police officer and my operational experience has mainly been in Birmingham but I’ve also spent three years working in the Black Country.  The Brummies and the Yam Yams will hate me for saying this: but those areas are not as different as they’d like to think they are – I hope I can get away with that, being neutral (a Geordie).  But there are differences in the way that services operate: different local authorities, different mental health trust albeit the same 999 services who often work across those boundaries.  Section 136 MHA works very differently on Shenstone Road, in west Birmingham depending on which side of the road you’re detained – one side of the road is in the Sandwell LA/MH area, the other is Birmingham’s.  Or maybe it depends which are the attending police officers have...

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Latest Mental Health Cop Stories

Still Too Many Questions
PaCA – Place of Safety Options
A Difficult and Complex Week
Mental Health Act Review
The Wessely Review

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