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Mental health policing: Officers “set up to fail”

PolicePolice officers are being “set up to fail” when it comes to dealing with mentally ill people, the Police Federation of England and Wales has said.

Kevin Huish, the Police Federation lead on custody and mental health issues, said police stations “are not the right place to care for children or adults with mental health problems.”

And he warned: “Our members have found that health professionals are increasingly unable to accept children into health based places of safety and sometimes refuse. The responsibility inevitably falls to police officers who are constantly being set-up to fail because they are not trained mental health professionals.”

Mr Huish added: “A recent inspection found that in 2011-12 more than 9,000 people (including children) were taken into police custody under section 136 of the Mental Health Act. This is totally unacceptable.

“Children detained in police custody under section 136 [of the Mental Health Act] are subject to the same processes and procedures, and kept in the same style of cell, as those arrested for crimes. This causes unnecessary harm and distress.

“We will continue to work in partnership with government, ACPO and key charities on behalf of our members to drive necessary changes to mental health legislation.

“It is essential that officers are better prepared and equipped to help those suffering mental ill health and most importantly the service and care provided to those individuals.”

A new guide, Police and mental health – how to get it right locally, has also being released this past month by Victim Support in partnership with the charity Mind.

Mr Huish added: “This guide highlights the excellent work that the Police Federation undertakes in partnership with ACPO and key charities on behalf of its members in a crucial, high risk area of policing.

“It is one element of a key Federation campaign to drive national improvements in training, knowledge and essential changes to mental health legislation so that officers are better prepared and equipped to help those suffering mental ill health and most importantly the service and care provided to those individuals.”

You can see a copy of the guide here http://www.mind.org.uk/media/618027/2013-12-03-Mind_police_final_web.pdf

Date posted: February 6, 2014

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