The police and mental health
The police are the gatekeepers of the criminal justice system, so it is vital that people with mental distress believe the police will treat them with respect, dignity and credibility if they are to report crime. Sadly, sometimes people with mental distress are treated less favourably by the police because of their mental health.
People have told us of the police being rude, dismissive and patronising, or in some instances verbally abusive or physically aggressive. When people disclose their mental health, police officers sometimes lose sympathy, harden their attitude or fail to believe the victim's testimony.
New police guide published
Mind has published its new guide ‘Police and mental health – how to get it right locally’. The document highlights good practice by police forces across the country and examples of joint work between the police and third sector organisations, particularly local Mind associations.
It’s a highly accessible guide that will be of great interest and use to police forces, politicians, and anyone with any previous contact with the police, particularly those with experience of mental distress.
We will be disseminating the guide to all police forces in England and Wales. We want to share these examples so that all police forces can ensure they are providing a good service to people with mental distress. We also want to encourage third sector organisations to adopt some of the great schemes currently operating all over England and Wales.
The guide has also been featured in the June edition of the Police Federation's Police magazine. You can read the article here: http://www.polfed.org/Mind_policing_gaps_0610.pdf
>>Get involved: Find out how you can help the guide have a bigger impact in your local police force.
Following Mind's 'Another assault' campaign, the National Police Improvement Agency, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, has now launched its new training and guidance for all police on how they should respond to people with mental health problems or learning disabilities. Mind made substantial contributions to the development of these programmes.
Thanks to our campaign, Mind is now recognised as a key stakeholder in the field of criminal justice, and we are regularly asked to input into new policies.
Our campaign has also raised awareness among the police about the importance of providing a good service to people with mental distress, with police forces often contacting us for advice about how to set up mental health awareness training in their area.