Today, the Independent Commission on Policing and Mental Health established by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has launched a website. The Commission, chaired by Lord Adebowale and involving ACPO Lead on Mental Health, Chief Constable Simon Cole, will ultimately publish their report in March 2013 on this website so it is worth book-marking, but they have also established a survey that seeks the viewpoints of any and all people connected to the issues.
The deadline for the survey to be completed is 11th February 2013. You should also note that the Commission are doing a specific survey within the Metropolitan Police for officers and staff.
I want to devote this post to explaining why as many people as possible who are around these issues in London should ensure that their opinions are known. It is my strong personal view that the interface between policing, mental health and criminal justice often invokes emotionally skewed views because of people’s perspective. This is not a criticism: it is natural and to be expected and I absolutely include myself in this remark.
But only if we ensure a broad cross-section of responses from the police, other professionals and far more importantly from the public we serve, can Lord Adebowale and his team stand a chance of blending this into sensible recommendations which we can all use to make the world a better place.
Please take 15 minutes (max) to complete the survey.
THE INDEPENDENT COMMISSION
The remit of Lord Adebowale’s Commission is around the Metropolitan Police and the first question of the survey seeks to understand the perspective from which respondents are commenting. You will notice that police responses are not restricted to Metropolitan Police officers (but if you are from the Met, bear in mind the internal survey which is different) and in addition to various categories of individual who will have had personal or professional contact with the Met, there is a section for “other” respondents.
Anyone can fill this in, but just remember the Commission are focussing upon the Metropolitan Police.
Please make your view known because we police by consent in this country and we, the police and our partner agencies, need to know what we could do better and differently to get this right, amidst the varying views that will exist.
When I respond to the Commission later this week, I will be covering various things that I’ve mentioned on this blog in what is very nearly 250 articles on the “natural venn diagram” I am interested in. This is a snapshot:
- Provision of s136 Places of Safety – thinking outside the box about where these could be and how we structure integrated health and police services to manage the most challenge cases which prompt the commissions inquiry. These include cases like Sean Rigg, Olaseni Lewis, Michael Powell and Kingsley Burrell.
- Deaths in Custody – various points to make about the criminalisation of medical issues and the medicalisation of crime issues: as well as about the “duality” of the most high-profile matters that have led to tragedies in police stations and vans around the UK. There are answers to this, but they are at the strategic if not political levels.
- Training of Police Officers – why does 17% of all police demand get training measured in hours or, at most, days when other police training spends weeks ensuring the understanding of complex legal and procedural frameworks? And could we not train and then use officers in a different way to ensure better knowledge and experience is deployed?
- Diversion of Offenders – do we know what this means in the real world to custody sergeants who have to make incredibly tough calls and do the necessary services in exist in a responsive way to ensure it is influenced by the right information and done well? Not currently, in my view.
- Senior Leadership on Mental Health – there is a survey to complete because the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has shown leadership in establishing the commission. We also need leadership at the very local level and I have no reason to suppose that the Metropolitan Police Boroughs and their health counter-parts are different to anywhere else where there is a different amount of focus and priority afforded to these issues. As it is key to public confidence in policing, we need informed senior and middle leaders on the case.
- Joint Inspection – we absolutely know for a fact, that many procedures and processes for application of arrangements around the policing mental health interface are in breach of laws, codes of practice or jointly agreed guidelines and procedures. Who is policing this and requiring improvement in those arrangements?
- Research – we need to know more about this stuff. We don’t even know how many section 136 cases there have been, never mind 135s or AWOL patients from hospitals. How can we then possibly say we understand the issues arising.
“The police are the public and the public are the police”, said Robert Peel, so let’s do this together and make it right by telling the Commission what we think.
Update on 01st April 2015 – since writing this article, a new Code of Practice has come into effect in England. It doesn’t substantially alter the post but certain reference numbers have changed. My summary post about the new Code of Practice (2015) is here, the new Reference Guide is here and the full document is here. The Code of Practice (Wales) remains unchanged.
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.