- This quick guide is an attempt to “operationalise” some complex issues but you should refer to your own force policy and your supervisors for specific local requirements.
- INITIAL ACTION
- This guidance applies to both “inpatient” offences AND offences committed in the community.
- Preserve evidence for offences in the normal way – witnesses, CCTV, forensic, etc..
- Do not immediately assume that it is not in the public interest to invesitgate or prosecute
- Gather as much background information about mental ill health as possible, especially if it is possible to contact a mental health professional with knowledge of the suspect
- Get medical opinion about whether the suspect can be interviewed.
- Inpatient offences – formally request background information listed here:
- SUBSEQUENT ACTION
- Once decided whether to interview / section:
- Fit to be interviewed – appropriate adult, interview, weigh evidence: disposal decision.
- NOT fit to be interviewed – Mental Health Act assessment, await outcome.
- Once decided whether to ‘section’ under the MHA:
- No section – appropriate adult, interview, weigh evidence: disposal decision.
- Section (minor offence) – consider ‘diversion’ without charge; and / or caution, warning or local resolution of the offence.
- Section (serious offence / risk) – take background information to CPS for consideration of charge and Part III MHA application to court.
- LEGAL REMINDERS
- Insanity is a defence, for the defendant to raise:
- “Every man is presumed to be sane and possess a sufficient degree of reason to be held responsible for his actions.”
- It IS legally possible to arrest someone who is already sectioned under the MHA
- It is sometimes necessary to prosecute people who are mentally ill in order to secure opportunities available under Part III MHA.
- MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROSECUTION OF OFFENDERS
- Specific, more detailed guidance on inpatient offences.
The Mental Health Cop blog
– won the ConnectedCOPS ‘Top Cop’ Award for leveraging social media in policing.
– won the Digital Media Award from the UK’s leading mental health charity, Mind
– won a World of Mentalists #TWIMAward for the best in mental health blogs
– was highlighted by the Independent Commission on Policing & Mental Health
– was referenced in the UK Parliamentary debate on Policing & Mental Health
– was commended by the Home Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament.