A little knowledge is dangerous

Mental Health Cop /   July 29, 2014 at 2:53 AM 3,597 views

Mental health has been creeping up the agenda in policing for some while now. I will confess to mixed feelings about this progress and I imagine that might surprise you. On the one hand, I’ve spent years banging on about mental health in the hope of its importance being recognised and slowly but surely, it is. I really think we’re on the verge of getting somewhere with this. However, I’m also concerned about a trend over the last year or so, in particular – this trend arises partly from the fact that the police are having to manage remaining resources ever more closely as they become scarce; it also arises from that old adage that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’. The next part of that phrase is “A little want of knowledge is also a dangerous thing.” As more officers are told to undertake work on mental health, I see them struggling with the gaps in their legal knowledge just as I did when I began.

I first piled into doing proper work on this topic over ten years ago, when a Chief Superintendent in Birmingham asked for volunteers to get involved in revising all the operating procedures with the newly merged Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust. Ten years later – three years of which was spent working full-time on mental health – and I’ve learned just a thing or three. It is therefore with a wry smile that I notice some of those more recently involved police officers falling into the traps and pitfalls I was falling into in 2004. This blog was always intended, in part, to help police officers avoid those traps but only last week I heard a senior officer talking about ‘capacity‘ as if it meant anything at all in the context of criminal offending. He was bemoaning the lack of written statements of evidence by psychiatrists to confirm it is acceptable and possible to prosecute someone. He looked really confused when I asked why we were asking doctors legal questions given that we rarely take medication prescribed by lawyers.

Whenever I do talks to groups of police officers about this interface with mental health, I often ask, “What is it that really annoys or frustrates you in how our mental health system or our NHS works?” and you always get a flood of answers. It will usually include something about section 136 facilities; having to wait around for hours; being asked to do things which are, properly considered, health responsibilities and lots more besides.  I don’t ask the question because I particularly care about the answers – I ask it in order to set up another question: “What is that you think really annoys of frustrates our colleagues in mental health about police officers and the police service?”

This question is ALWAYS greeted with total silence.

Which means we either have no idea or it means the police must be perfect. I can tell you for free it’s not the latter, but I think you knew that already! We seem to have no insight into our own shortcomings and how they affect mental health services. So let me enlighten you, because I have repeatedly asked mental health professionals this question and they always have a long list of answers!

Irritating health and social care

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but there are usually a consistent range of complaints:

  • Officers failing to take seriously assaults on health / social care staff: a lack of proper investigation and a lack of rigour behind decisions not to arrest or prosecute patients who have hurt NHS staff — I have never known NHS staff be unreasonable when you inform of a decision not to prosecute after an investigation which they know has been diligently conducted but where the outcome is not what they hoped for.  It’s only where officers shrug shoulders and say, “Isn’t this part of te job?” or similar things that objections arise.
  • To give just the most recent example drawn to my attention: one force had officers attend a mental health unit where a s3 patient had stamped on the ankle of a member of staff, breaking it, bitten someone else’s nose and attempted to gouge out someone’s eyes and the attending officers didn’t even record a crime — no investigation followed, all because the perception was that the patient wouldn’t be prosecuted so why bother. It all had to get looked at again.
  • A lack of legal knowledge about the Mental Health and Capacity Acts leading to officers saying things which just sound silly to people who know what they’re talking about — examples include talking nonsense about ‘capacity’ as a proxy for various things; officers confusing the circumstances in which warrants are needed from those were they aren’t. In particular, the thought the AMHPs who have ‘sectioned’ patients need warrants to remove them from premises after a MHA assessment – which they don’t.
  • Overuse, misuse and abuse of section 136 of the Mental Health Act — this is still happening on a large-scale, in particular where officers are detaining people MHA who should be arrested for drunkenness offences or more specific criminal offending.
  • Difficulties in securing support for patients who become resistant to detention after being ‘sectioned’ — AMHPs calling 999 for support and being told that the police aren’t coming when there is no way the call handler or sergeant making that call can know it’s correct to decline to support.
  • And a very modern trend I’ve only been hearing about over the last year or so – officers refusing to attend premises with AMHPs who have warrants from the courts to locate and remove patients — the two warrants contained within section 135 can only be executed by the police and telling staff to go to premises anyway and “ring us if you have any problems” is often not acceptable.

Proxy policies

Some years ago the Metropolitan Police introduced a policy which in effect meant they would not support Mental Health Act assessments in private premises, unless the AMHP had obtained a warrant under s135(1) MHA. It was argued that the sorts of situations which required police support would always give rise to the grounds for a warrant being met. As such, because police officers are fairly powerless to manage risks without a warrant, they would ask for one in order to make sure that they did have an ability to intervene and keep people safe. I admit to thinking that warrants are sought less often than they should be and that the Met were trying to prevent frontline cops from difficult discussions by making it easy to process. Finally, the “no warrant = no police” debate reduced various fairly complex situations into overly simplistic scenarios where the warrant issue becomes a proxy for a more considered debate about whether it was right for the police to attend. It somewhat over-simplifies things.

The are (at least) two problems with this “no warrant = no police” debate —

It is quite possible to conceive MHA assessments where the grounds for a warrant would not be met and where the police would still be required to prevent crime or a breach of the peace. Where anticipated risks of crime or aggression arise not from the patient to be assessed but from third parties present at the scene, officers may still be required. Remember, it is a criminal offence to obstruct an AMHP in the course of their duty and AMHPs have legal rights to enter premises in conjunction with their warranted, legal responsibilities. It is not unreasonable as they are agents of the state, also, that they may need police support from time to time. Finally, if you read the new draft Code of Practice to the Mental Health Act, it shows a current intention to include a paragraph that outlines a requirement for the police to be told why their attendance at a MHA assessment is required if there is no warrant in force. Why would this requirement be there unless there are situations in which warrants are not possible, but police support is still required?

But secondly, even where the grounds for a warrant are met, certain circumstances in which an MHA assessment might occur make it clear that no sooner will professionals have entered the premises, than a decision to apply for admission will occur

This is the best example of why police officers and policy writers need to be careful about grabbing at a simplistic proxy position as a way of resisting demands that many be drifting their way. But for heaven’s sake! – if we’ve badgered away asking for warrants to obtained more frequently, let’s not mess about when AMHPs actually get them and then ask us to execute them. There is a growing trend of nonsense where officers have asked AMHPs to execute them (they legally can’t!) and where officers have suggested AMHPs should try to get through without police support and without executing the warrant.

Pushing back

I’m the first to think that there are too many demands connected to mental health that make it to the police and there are too many assumptions about what the police could or should do. I very firmly subscribe to the view that there is far too little early intervention and far too little Crisis Support that does not involve the criminal justice system and some kind of criminalisation contingency. But none of that means that police forces are perfect and that failings all sit with mental health services. Very far from it.

Of course, one of the problems with police officers getting into legal debates with AMHPs about the Mental Health Act is that it’s like watching a David and Goliath contest: police officers with their four hours of mental health training debating law with professionals qualified to post-graduate level in mental health law. Let me just say it took many years before I started to feel confident I could hold my own. Many, many years of being interested and working on this stuff full-time … and it still took years!

Why am I boring you with this post about police shortcomings and problems? Well, I write enough about everything that I think is wrong with our health and our mental health systems, so it’s only fair I balance it out! But there’s a far more important reason, too – if the police aren’t careful and if individual officers don’t ensure they’re well briefed or prepared, they will take this new-found enthusiasm and a just little bit of knowledge and get something horrendously wrong. I worried in the last post on this BLOG about policies that ask officers to walk out on their duty of care after a (quite arbitrary) two-hour period; I worry about officers not executing warrants issued by the courts and I worry that some junior PC will make a decision because he or she has picked up some fragment of knowledge or received wisdom. We all need to be aware that our lack of formal training and of the extent to which many things in policing in mental health are received wisdoms that may or may not be right.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and a little want of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Courtesy of Insp Michael Brown at Mental Health Cop

22 thoughts on “A little knowledge is dangerous”

  1. belk discount code says:

    This is self-same advantaging, You might be an extremely dexterity blogger. We’ve entered your current rss give food to and appearance send on near getting added involving your complete announce. Moreover, We’ve revealed the
    belk discount code http://www.belk-coupons.com/listing-category/belk-discount-code

  2. lace frontal says:

    The most effective lace frontal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny8rUpI_98I i ever had. Fantastic ! They’re manner plus they glance good !

  3. Omaha Steaks deals says:

    love that scarf so much and always a sucker for a good hat!!
    Omaha Steaks deals http://www.omahasteaks-coupons.com

  4. World Market promo says:

    Excellent blog here! Additionally your web site so much up fast! What web host are you the use of? Can I am getting your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol
    World Market promo http://www.costplusworldcoupons.com

  5. Air max pas cher says:

    My brother suggested I might like this website. He was entirely right. This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!
    Air max pas cher http://ireshoesonline.com

  6. Services says:

    Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I¡®ll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.
    Services http://www.gerobrien.net/eco-services.html

  7. Björn Carnemalm says:

    Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you However I am experiencing issue with ur rss . don¡¯t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx
    Björn Carnemalm http://www.bjorncarnemalm.com/cv.html

  8. Gånsager Tømrer says:

    I was recommended this web site by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my problem. You’re incredible! Thanks!
    Gånsager Tømrer http://www.gertthyssen.dk/Renovering.html

  9. testimonials says:

    Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative. I?m going to watch out for brussels. I¡®ll appreciate if you continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!
    testimonials http://www.murphyvideoservices.com/testimonials.html

  10. jcpenney coupon code Blog says:

    Clara, no sabes cuanto me alegro. Gracias por venir a contármelo
    jcpenney coupon code Blog http://www.jcpenney-couponcodes.com/category/jcpenney-coupon-code-blog

  11. b&h photo coupon code Blog says:

    ”sköt hon över”? Och varför svarar du på dina egna kommentarer hela tiden?
    b&h photo coupon code Blog http://www.bhphotocoupons.com/category/bh-photo-coupon-code-blog

  12. ltd commodities coupon code Blog says:

    Los fachas empiezan a oler a caquita, ya se le nota el miedo¿No lo oléis? se nota en los comentarios de estos guarros casposos que se pasan por aquí a amenazar. ¿Miedo? Limpiaros primero el honor… digo el culo o que os lo limpie vuestra madre —si la conocéis, claro—. Nos vemos en las calles.
    ltd commodities coupon code Blog http://www.ltdcommoditiescoupons.com/category/ltd-commodities-coupon-code-blog

  13. golden goose outlet 2017 says:

    per la nostra massima felicità e good.But schiavitù dipende per la sua esistenza e la crescita sul ignoranza ofits vittime miserabili. Se le domande Tidys erano state esaudite, e hercuriosity soddisfatto, sarebbe andata su nelle sue indagini; e fromstudying oggetti in natura, si sarebbe venuti a studiare golden goose seastar i libri, andperhaps avrebbero letto la Bibbia, e quindi scoperto una gra golden goose offerta nde quantità cheha non è considerato appropriato per uno schiavo know.We couldnt mantenere i nostri servitori, se dovessimo indicare loro, dice theslaveholder; e quindi fa la legge che costituisce un criminaloffense per insegnare schiavo di read.But Tidy è stato insegnato a lavorare. Questo è proprio quello che gli schiavi sono fatte per, al lavoro, e così salvare i loro proprietari la fatica di themselves.Slaveholders di lavoro non riconoscono il fatto che Dio
    golden goose outlet 2017 http://www.luxury-update.xyz

  14. burberry venezia says:

    sbaglia. Abbiamo raggiunto il gour asthe sole sorgeva. Ho guardato indietro. Il Atakor non era altro che un caos mon-Strous tra le nebbie notturne che trainato l’alba. E ‘stato no172longer possibile scegliere pantaloni uomo burberry tra le cime senza nome, quello onwhich Antinea era ancora tessendo la sua passione plots.You sapere qual è il Tanezruft è, la piana di pianura, abbandonato, non-abitabile, il paese di fame e di sete. Siamo stati poi iniziando onthe parte del deserto, che Duveyrier chiama il Tassili del sud, andwhich figure sulle mappe del Ministro dei lavori pubblici ai sensi del presente at-trazione titolo: altopiano roccio pantaloni uomo burberry so, senza acqua, senza vegetazione, inhos-pitable per l’uomo e beast.Nothing, a meno che le parti del Kalahari, è più spaventoso di questo rockydesert. Oh, Ceghéir-ben-Cheikh non esagerare in
    burberry venezia http://www.66-road.info/burberry-venezia.html

  15. valentino sandali outlet says:

    cambiamento. Ciò che serve è un impegno per gli obiettivi di theMDGs sviluppate attraverso vivace dibattito tra le organizza hotel san valentino ischia porto zioni di grandi dimensioni andsmall, e un riconoscimento che la loro realizzazione richiede la piena impegnarsi-mento di entrambe le comunità di fede e di sviluppo. Mente, cuore e anima e la saggezza HANDSThe e pratici spunti che sono emersi attraverso dialogueabout povertà, e le sfide di ispirazione, ma formidabili poste bythe MDG, suggeriscono la necessità di partenariati nuove e migliorate thatcombine diverse facoltà e prospettive. Questi possono essere characterized8? Mente, cuore e anima nella lotta contro Povertyas mente, il cuore, l’anima, e, naturalmente, hand mario valentino collezione borse s.3Each è necessario per le sfide facecontemporary di sviluppo, e la fede e developmentleaders non possono affrontare adeguatamente qualsiasi sfida, se non lo facciamo
    valentino sandali outlet http://www.luxury-show.info

  16. mocassini burberry says:

    meno interessante: ma la realvalue di Teocrito sta nel suo potere di landscape-painting.One può ben immaginare la gioia che i suoi idilli devono aver dato tothose Alessandrini polverosi, repressa per sempre tra mare e colline di sabbia, a bere il serbatoio d’acqua, e mai sentito il suono di un streamwhirling corsa, troppo, per sempre, in tutto il burberry sandali trambusto e l’intrigo di una grande città letteraria commercialand. Rinfrescante an burberry sandali zi deve essere stato per loro di sentire ofALEXANDRIA E LE SUE SCHOOLS33those gioie semplici e semplici dolori del pastore siciliano, in una fatica landwhere era ma l’esercizio, e semplice esistenza era divertimento. A loro, ea noi anche. Credo Teocrito è uno dei poeti che non sarà mai die.He vede gli uomini e le cose, a suo modo leggero, in verità; e descrive themsimply, onestamente, con poco
    mocassini burberry http://www.74-clubjs.club/mocassini-burberry.html

  17. come riconoscere burberry originale says:

    educato rigidamente affrettò a ritirare la borsa, forfear che lei dovrebbe servire per farlo. E ‘stata punita girando itinside fuori, e sono stato ricompensato da aiutandola a raccogliere gli tessuto burberry articoli, whichwere molti e mal assortita. Il mio piccolo romanzo ha ricevuto il primo blowwhen ho scoperto che lei legge i romanzi Duchessa. Penso, tuttavia, shehas la grazia di cui vergognarsi, perché lei arrossì quando ho handedher A Circe moderna. Ho potuto dirle che tale rossore sulle quali aA CATTEDRALE COURTSHIP8cheek sarebbe espiare la lettura signora Southworth, ma mi trattenni. Dopo She era andato ho scoperto un foglietto di carta che aveva soffiato sotto somestones. Essa ha dimostrato di essere un itinerario. Non ho restituirlo. Ho pensato theymust sapere da che parte stavano andan tessuto burberry do; e come questo era esattamente ciò che Iwanted sapere, ho tenuto
    come riconoscere burberry originale http://www.bluesky13.club/come-riconoscere-burberry-originale.html

  18. ebay borse burberry says:

    otterrà non è thesole e lo scopo più profondo della vostra escursione. Sei un geologo, myfriend. Hai trovato la possibilità di gr come riconoscere una burberry originale atificare il vostro gusto in questo viaggio. Non pensare onewould di voi incolpare perché avete saputo reconcilewhat è utile per il Paese e gradevole a te stesso. Ma, per la loveof Dio, non lo nego; Non ho bisogno di altra prova che la vostra presenza qui onthis lato della Tidifest, un posto molto curioso da una vista pointof mineralogico, ma a sud del officialroute.It alcuni centocinquanta chilometri non è stato possibile mi hanno ricambiato con una grazia migliore. I parriedby attacking.Am ho concludere da tutto ciò che io non conosco i veri come riconoscere una burberry originale scopi ofyour viaggio, e che non hanno nulla a che fare con le motivazioni ufficiali? Ero andato un po ‘troppo lontano. L’ho sentito dalla serietà
    ebay borse burberry http://www.califoria-88.info/ebay-borse-burberry.html

  19. prezzo profumo burberry uomo says:

    proprio come ho vomitato la mia pistola per sparare, la porta si spalancò e una coppia ofarms sono stati gettati intorno a me. E ‘stata la bella, arrossato, volto frenetico ofLady Jane, che lo guardò negli mine.You fuoco Shant! Il colonnello Gerard, per me dont fuoco, lei sneakers burberry c sneakers burberry ried.It è un errore, vi dico, un errore, un errore! Egli è il migliore anddearest dei mariti. Mai più devo lasciare la sua parte. Le sue mani sliddown il braccio e chiuse sulla mia pistola. Jane, Jane, gridò LordRufton; venire con me.You non dovrebbe essere qui. Venite away.It è tutto maledettamente irregolare, ha detto il colonnello Berkeley.Colonel Gerard, è solito fuoco, vero? Il mio cuore si rompono ifhe erano hurt.Hang tutto, Jinny, dare il tizio fair play, esclamò Lord Dacre. Hestood mio fuoco come un uomo, e non lo vorrei vederlo interferito con. Whateverhappens Non posso peggiorare
    prezzo profumo burberry uomo http://www.clubie-gi58.club/prezzo-profumo-burberry-uomo.html

  20. cinture hermes outlet says:

    solo il noleggio, Desiringnought ma come uccidere Desire.POEM: DALLA TERRA ALLA me HEAVENLeave, o amore! che reachest ma alla polvere; E tu, la mia mente, aspirano a cose più elevate: arricchirsi in ciò che non toglie la ruggine, e tutto ciò svanisce, ma dissolvenza piacere brings.Draw nei tuoi raggi, e umile tutte le tue forze A tal libertà duraturi dolce yokewhere essere, che rompe le nuvole , e apre indietro thelight che faccia sia lucentezza, e ci dà la vista ai see.O prendere piede veloce! lascia che la luce sia la tua guida, in questo piccolo corso whichbirth tira fuori a morte, e pensare a come il male si addice a lui di scivolare, il cielo Whoseeketh, e viene da respiro celeste. Quindi addio, mondo, il tuo uttermost vedo, Amore eterno, mantenere la tua vita in me.A DIFESA DI POESIE E POEMSI aveva voluto visitare la Ebridi, o isole occidentali
    cinture hermes outlet http://www.cinture-hermes-outlet.info

  21. tessuto burberry says:

    non capisco perché la youngcolonel di Ussari rise così di cuore al suo wordsbut ha learnedsince.THE AVVENTURE DI GERARD155VIII. L’ultima avventura di theBrigadierI vi dirà niente più storie, miei cari amici. Si dice che l’uomo islike la lepre, che viene eseguito in un cerchio e torna a morire al pointfrom cui started.Gascony è stata chiamata a me negli abiti burberry outlet ultimi tempi. Vedo il Garonnewinding blu tra i vigneti e l’oceano più blu verso il quale la sua waterssweep. Vedo il centro storico a abiti burberry outlet nche, e le setole di alberi dal lato diLa lunga banchina di pietra. Il mio cuore ha fame per il respiro della mia aria nativa eil caldo bagliore della mia nativa sun.Here a Parigi sono i miei amici, le mie occupazioni, i miei piaceri. Thereall che mi hanno conosciuto sono nella loro tomba. Eppure il sud-ovest Windas esso sonagli sul mio
    tessuto burberry http://www.clubyu21.club/tessuto-burberry.html

  22. cinture hermes uomo says:

    avere la loro attenzione svegli per la condotta dei governanti na-zionali, e sarà pronto a sufficienza, se eventuali appare improprio cosa, tosound l’allarme al popolo, e non solo per essere la voce, ma, se ne-cessario, il braccio dei loro discontent.Schemes di sovvertire le libertà di una grande comunità RICHIEDONO Timeto loro maturare per l’esecuzione. Un esercito, così grande come seriamente menacethose libertà, potrebbe essere formata solo da potenziamenti progressivi; che supponiamo, non semplicemente una combinazione temporanea tra thelegislature ed esecutivo, ma un continuo congiura per una serie di time.140Is probabile che una tale combinazione esisterebbe affatto? È probablethat sarebbe perseverato, e trasmessa lungo attraverso tutte le variazioni thesuccessive in un organo di rappresentanza, che biennale
    cinture hermes uomo http://www.cinture-hermes-uomo.info

Please comment with your real name using good manners.

Leave a Reply