This is a picture of PC Alex STYPULKOWSKI from Hampshire police – officially the bravest police officer in the country. Let me tell you why –
In November 2010, PC STYPULKOWSKI was deployed to support social services to ‘section’ a man under the Mental Health Act. The operation included armed officers, but Alex is an unarmed, frontline cop. The officer was honoured in front of politicians, senior officers and his family, along with dozens of other very brave nominees who won their regional bravery awards.
The man was known to have a history of violence, including having previous barricaded himself in a premises taking his mother as a hostage. << I am fascinated to know whether this operation was undertaken with a warrant under s135(1) because those who know my views on the “warrant or no warrant” debate will realise that when I first read this story, I got this far into it and started thinking, “I hope they had asked for a warrant, whether or not they knew they could get access to the premises.” Anyway … more of that later!
This excerpt from the BBC News article tells the story: “He arrived at the scene and chased the man but became separated from his colleagues and ended up in a dark road surrounded by bushes and trees. The man turned to face him, brandishing a screwdriver, telling him: “You’re going to die.” The officer used CS spray on the man, but he continued walking so he struck him on the leg. When he fell he dragged the officer with him and, as they struggled on the ground, PC STYPULKOWSKI said he could feel sharp blows to his back and neck. Another officer arrived and the man ran off, with both officers giving chase. The man was eventually arrested after PC STYPULKOWSKI’s colleague used a Taser stun gun.”
PC STYPULKOWSKI described the experience of being repeatedly stabbed with a screwdriver as “sobering” – “Adrenalin has a lot to answer for. I knew I was alright, he was a dangerous guy and needed to be caught. I did what my colleagues would have done for me.
The officer received “near-fatal” injuries in detaining this man. Alex has rightly received the highest praise from politicians and senior officers alike or his actions, my own rather late contribution to this coming as I learned of this award whilst driving to the airport two weeks ago.
I would like to suggest that the officer is quite correct, however: whilst atypical in terms of the injuries sustained, it is a weekly occurence in most police areas across the country that the police are asked to mitigate risks during Mental Health Act assessments, including with regard to people who have previous engaged in violent and sometimes, armed resistance to detention. By the time such requests are received, it is too late to do anything that may prevent the situation getting that far – it is a question of mitigating properly to manage such situations as safely as possible. This is why planning of such assessments, information sharing need to be improved and this incident shows precisely why a warrant under s135(1) should be secured for those assessments where there are RAVE Risks arising from the patient to be assessed. << I will continue to attempt to find out whether or not this was the case and update the blog, but I have been told by a contact in Hampshire that he is “almost certain” there was no warrant in place.
Far more importantly: my congratulations and admiration for PC STYPULKOWSKI on his award – very richly deserved indeed.
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.