I’m a serving 24/7 police inspector blogging in a personal capacity. I’ve had more than my fair share of policing & mental health incidents and I continue to get them daily on the frontline of British policing.
It was the overwhelming feeling when I joined of not knowing what on earth I was doing, that got me asking questions about this stuff. I asked them of other police officers, including supervisors, but it emerged they often knew little of use. I have made it my business to ask psychiatrists, forensic psychiatrists, A&E doctors, paramedics as well as psychiatric nurses and AMHPs (or ASWs as they were) how we should operate in this area of policing. Anyone who would stand still long enough and talk to me, frankly.
I eventually found out that there are no simple answers and no-one was particularly working on policing and mental health. I had triangulate a multitude of opinions and form my own, accepting from the start that once I felt confident enought to begin expressing views, I would meet just some people who were prepared to die in a ditch before they would ever agree with me – even though I was trying my best to understand laws or guidelines and was representing back opinions from people who do their job. When you point this out – that other people who do their job disagree with them about the issue in hand – and that they are contradicted by their own guidance, you’ll be patronised and talked down to: what do the police know about mental health?!
You’ll then start to understand the kind of paradigm we’ve constructed.
It’s when you then meet other quite amazing health and social care professionals who will tell you that you were quite correct in what you thought you’d read or heard – you start to wonder what on earth has been going on?
I’m not seeking any form of anonymity and am open about my views on this stuff, but nor am I attempting to represent the police service’s views officially. You’ll need to speak to Chief Constable Simon COLE of Leicestershire Police for that – he leads for the service on this issue and a lot of policy positions are represented in national guidance to the police service, which I was involved in producing. I’m making this blog as close to that document as I possibly can, bearing in mind it is not perfect and news and legal cases develop this stuff all the time.
I am not attempting to be subversive at all, but to represent the uncertain and ongoing debate about the role of the police, the legal structures within which we must operate and this will involve outlining considerations and thoughts that will not always go down well with everyone. But I’m interested the criminalisation of mental health issues and I’m interested in ensuring that operational cops with their 8hrs of mental health training, can survive legal contact with this extremely complex business and do their best for patients and vulnerable people.
Through this blog, I want to try and get police officers and health / social care staff talking to each other. It is years of me doing just this in my own area that has brought me to a position where I feel confident in knowing what to do, along with reading a lot of law and guidance.
Email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mental Health Cop blog won
– the Mind 2012 Digital Media Award, in memory and in honour of Mark Hanson.
The Awards celebrate the “best portrayals of and reporting on mental health in the media.”
– a World of Mentalists 2012 #TWIMAward for the best in mental health blogs.
It was described as “a unique mix of professional resource, help for people using services and polemic.”