Guidance for police on sharing information 'could go further'

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Posted on 09/08/2015

The Home Office has published ‘Statutory Disclosure Guidance’ – revised guidance for chief officers of police to help them decide what police information to disclose during DBS checks. DBS is a check of your criminal record which is used by an employer to decide whether you are a suitable person to work with children or vulnerable adults. DBS checks are carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service and used to be called Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.

This guidance is relevant to people with mental health problems because it advises chief officers of police whether and when to include information about detentions in police cells or health-based places of safety when someone experiencing a mental health crisis comes into contact with the police.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:

“We welcome this revised guidance as it’s an issue we have been concerned about for some time. The nature of the current process means that people who are perfectly able to do a job may be unnecessarily excluded because of a lack of clarity about what should and shouldn’t be disclosed. There is no reason why having a mental health problem or having been previously detained under the Mental Health Act should necessarily be a red flag when it comes to DBS checks. This guidance is an important next step in providing greater clarity, but there is still room to go further.”

“For example, people should automatically be allowed to make representations about the current state of their mental health before chief police officers decide what information to include. In a society where stigma about mental ill health is still rife, we need all the checks and balances possible to negate any fears and preconceived ideas about the one in four of us who experience mental health problems every year.”

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