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Should nurses be on hand to help police in dealing with mental health offenders?

  • Comments (15)

Article: Nurses to aid police with mental health offenders

Theresa May has unveiled plans for nurses to accompany police officers when they are dealing with those perceived to have a mental illness, particularly when it is likely the individual is going to be detained under the mental health act.

What do you think?

  • Will this recommendation improve safety for mental health patients detained in police custody?
  • Should the police be offered better training in dealing with mental health problems?
  • Would it be more appropriate for those with the power to apply the MHA to accompany the police?
  • Does this open up possibilities for senior nurses to have the power to section?
  • Comments (15)

Readers' comments (15)

  • I think this is a good idea. When I was on my HTT placement, nurses almost always attended MHA assessments. Why should it be any different for s136 assessments? Senior nurses already have the option of AMHP training, it's a role now open to social workers, nurses, OTs & psychologists.

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  • Fran Entwistle

    We've been sent a link about a similar scheme in Canada, which apparently have been very successful:

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  • Anonymous

    it is vital that police officers have understanding and expertise in dealing with individuals with MH disorders for the rights and protection of this vulnerable group of individuals in order to avoid abuse has seen in the past and also for the protection of the public and themselves and any others who are involved in assisting the disturbed individual.

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  • Fran Entwistle | 21-May-2013 3:43 pm

    The Canadian scheme is not designed to respond to out of control individuals who represent a danger to themselves/others.

    In urgent and threatening circumstances it is important for the Police to respond quickly with the aim of bringing the individual under control.

    Violent and threatening incidents are often fuelled/precipitated by drugs/alcohol and the individuals involved are not "fit" for immediate Psychiatric assessment.

    Once these violent individuals are under control/restraint they have to be removed to an appropriate place of safety. This in most instances will, of necessity, be a police station. It is at the Police station where urgent physical/psychiatric assessment should take place.

    I am sure the Police would be delighted to have the responsibility disarming and controlling violent out of control people transferred to "Registered Nurse De-Escalation Experts"!

    Be careful what you wish for.

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  • it is vital that everything is done to decriminalise people with mental health problems.
    Police often have to help individuals who are not well and possibly at risk of harm to themselves, but find out years later that the police involvement is disclosed as enhanced disclosure on CRB certificates, preventing people who have never committed a crime or been a risk to anyone else, getting jobs.
    Involvement of nurses will allow subsequent informed reviews – has anyone else encountered this problem


    David Wacks

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  • Anonymous

    David Wacks | 23-May-2013 9:29 am

    you raise very important points.

    the grounds for issuing these CRB orders to anybody should be scrutinised as apparently once they are issued the individual can do nothing to alter them or have them removed even if there were no grounds for them. It appears they can be issued as the result of highly subjective judgements of one police officer and each carries with it a financial incentive for the officer concerned. It is very sad that not everybody can be trusted to do their job properly anymore and in the best interests of their clients, putting these before their own!

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  • Fran Entwistle

    Jenny Jones | 22-May-2013 6:33 am

    Hi Jenny

    I can assure you I’m not wishing for anything! My own personal opinion is that this proposal needs a great deal more thought and at present is likely to produce backlash from both mental health workers and the police.

    However, this blog is designed to spark debate, which can only happen if we look at both sides of the argument. When I was contacted by a mental health nurse about a scheme involving mental health professionals and the police working (apparently well) together in Canada, I thought this was interesting. Particularly as relations between mental health workers and the police are far from ideal, and improving this relationship would be of benefit to patients.

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  • "Mental Health" problems provide no excuse for violent or disruptive behaviour which causes alarm to the public and often of necessity requiring police involvement.

    Police intelligence will quite rightly retain records of untoward instances of inappropriate behaviour.

    If this intelligence then surfaces in an enhanced CRB then a valuable life lesson is there for the learning! Namely there are always consequences attached to any action (behaviour).

    Clearly if individuals are being denied employed against an unfavourable enhanced CRB report those individuals are applying for inappropriate jobs

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  • Anonymous

    Jenny Jones | 23-May-2013 2:04 pm

    it would appear, if news reports are accurate, that some CRBs are being handed out without just cause based on subjective judgements of the officers and for incentives, just like the bobbies on the beat in the old days who, the more parking and traffic offence tickets they gave out, the more they were paid. I heard them admitting this themselves.

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  • I am from Toronto, Canada and work at one of the several hospitals that this model is used. It is very effective from standpoints of families, patients, police and mental health clinicians involved. In the Toronto area we call it MCIT "Mobile Crisis Intervention Team".
    Here are some links:

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