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Mind responds to sentencing of police officer convicted of Dalian Atkinson's manslaughter

Tuesday, 29 June 2021 Mind
  • Taser use increased by 37% last year, with 15% of incidents where these types of weapons were used involving a person with a mental health problem.

  • Black people involved in police incidents are five times more likely than white people to have force used on them, including handcuffing and ground restraint, batons, Tasers and firearms.*

  • Black people are over four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than white people.

  • Black people are four times more likely than white people to be subject to restrictive interventions while detained for mental health treatment.

  • This is an increase on the previous year and includes chemical restraint (usually an injection of a sedative), seclusion and segregation, as well as physical restraint, including face down restraint.

Responding to the sentencing, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs at Mind, said:

"This landmark sentencing exposes the shameful fact that Black men consistently suffer and die at the hands of an outdated and unjust mental health system.

"While the police officer convicted of Dalian's manslaughter will serve a minimum of eight years in prison, Black men remain at an unacceptably higher risk of being Tasered, sectioned in a mental health crisis and being placed in seclusion, physically or chemically restrained when they reach this point.

“Dalian Atkinson’s death demonstrates this injustice and sits alongside a disgraceful list of similar cases, including the deaths of Sean Rigg, Olaseni Lewis, Kevin Clarke and Leon Briggs. The police and NHS must explain why force is being used so disproportionately on Black people.

“The wider picture shows that current police training on de-escalation is not fit for purpose. We urge the police to ensure they are equipped with the tools they need to make the right call in difficult situations and expect this to be included in the National Police Chiefs' Council review into the use of Tasers. We also expect the UK Government to prioritise responding to its consultation on the Mental Health Act and the NHS to urgently tackle racial inequality in its use.

“Our thoughts remain with Dalian's family, who are among many who have borne the brunt of our discriminatory mental health system. The police, NHS and UK Government must do all that they can to prevent such a tragedy ever happening again.”

Notes to editors

*Across forces in England and Wales, excluding the Metropolitan Police. The figure for the Metropolitan Police is 'four times more likely'.

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