Mental health is core police business. Some estimates suggest one-third of all police work involves a mental health issue for someone involved and is usually connected to concerns for the welfare of vulnerable people. Of course, police incidents also include allegations of crime where vulnerable people, who are at raised risk of being victims of crime, may have been targeted or a witness to. Suspects accused of offences are often assessed to have mental health problems and important decisions need to be taken about whether they should be considered for 'diversion' from the criminal justice system.
Over the last decade, the use of police powers under the Mental Health Act 1983 has increased, as has mental health related demands overall. Given the over-representation of people with mental health problems in some of the most difficult issues in policing, from deaths in police custody to the use of Taser, it is vital that police forces ensure their policies, training and leadership are appropriate.
The College of Policing is a national signatory to the Crisis Care Concordat, both in England (2014) and in Wales (2015). The College's contribution to this has been to revise and update national standards for the police service on mental health; to supplement these with the first national training materials for police officers at all levels and to undertake particular multi-agency work on the difficult and sensitive issue of police officers being requested to attend inpatient mental health settings, in response to crime or disorder.
Access the College of Policing's
Authorised Professional Practice on mental health.
Training materials are available to Police Forces on the College's Managed Learning Environment (MLE).
Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE QC independently chaired a multi-agency group of professionals from across policing, health and the third sector, crucially including mental health service users and representatives, to produce a memorandum of understanding. This Memorandum of Understanding has been endorsed by Mind, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Nursing, the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, the National Police Chiefs' Council and is supported by the College of Policing.
The Memorandum of Understanding is also available.