Mind and Victim Support have today launched a police and mental health good practice guide.
Police and Mental Health: How to get it right locally is endorsed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Police Federation. It is aimed at frontline officers and gives practical advice on supporting people with mental health problems.
The guide follows the publication of the At risk, yet dismissed report in October, by Victim Support and Mind, which revealed that people with mental health problems are up to ten times more likely to become victims of crime than the general population, and far less likely to report fair and respectful treatment by police.
Police and Mental Health showcases examples of good practice where police forces have worked with other local services and service users to ensure the best possible support for people with mental health problems.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
"Mental health problems affect one in four people every year, many of whom will come into contact with the police either as victims of crime, witnesses, offenders or when detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. Mental health is core police business and it is essential that officers feel confident when supporting people with mental health problems.
"We hope that forces and individual officers take inspiration and practical advice from our guide and make changes to their working practices, for the benefit of people with mental health problems."
Javed Khan, Chief Executive of Victim Support, said:
"This guide is an invaluable good practice tool for police officers, which we hope will make a real difference to the experiences of victims with mental health problems when they report crime.
"As we know, people with mental health problems are far more likely to become victims, and can suffer greater emotional impact when affected by crime. Despite this, they often feel disbelieved or even blamed when they seek help from the authorities.
"It is vital that the police communicate sensitively and effectively with this vulnerable group so they have the confidence that they are being listened to and don’t feel dismissed by the criminal justice process. It is only when victims come forward and report what has happened to them that justice can be done."
Chief Constable Simon Cole, National Policing Lead for Mental Health and Disability at ACPO, said:
"As the National Policing lead for Mental Health and Disability, I really welcome this guide. The findings and recommendations contained in the report At risk, yet dismissed highlight where police practice could be improved to better support and encourage victims with mental health problems to report crime; this guide is an excellent resource that can be used to support forces and partner agencies in developing their policies and practices to achieve this."
Kevin Huish, Custody & Mental Health Lead, Police Federation of England and Wales, said:
"I cannot recommend the guide highly enough. This revised and enhanced guide builds upon an excellent must-read resource for both operational officers and managers. It contains examples of excellent good practice covering local initiatives, liaison and diversion, training and support schemes which can be emulated to ensure good practice towards mental health is rooted and routine in all areas of policing."
Mind and Victim Support will be sending 32,000 copies of Police and Mental Health out with a forthcoming edition of the Police Federation’s ‘Police’ magazine. It is also available online.