Mental ill-health training reviewed

This article appears in the May 2014 edition of the College newsletter.

We have launched a wide-ranging review of training for officers responding to some of the most vulnerable people in mental health crises.

There has never been a greater need for police to have strong partnerships with healthcare, with one in six people struggling with mental health issues and cases of dementia set to rise.

The review includes the training, guidance and research for police officers responding to victims, witnesses and offenders suffering mental ill-health. It will update police guidance, known as Authorised Professional Practice, and will be put to consultation later this year.

We will also produce an updated set of learning tools to help officers and staff understand how they can best support vulnerable people in mental health crises. For example, this will include looking at diverting people to expert care from other health and social care agencies.  

Inspector Alistair Seddon, who is coordinating our review, said:

"While police officers are not doctors and we can't expect them to diagnose people with mental ill-health, we have to make sure that they can recognise people who might be vulnerable and require expert medical care.

"The existing e-learning has won awards for its treatment of mental ill-health, and the College's review will build on what we currently have. It will also look at new products we can make available to officers so we can ensure their understanding in this area remains up-to-date and refreshed."

The College review includes:

  • Consolidating and reviewing evidence and research - including the findings from a rapid evidence assessment of more than 1,400 pieces of academic literature on successful interventions in this area. 
  • Reviewing existing police guidance (2010 guidance on Responding to People with Mental Ill Health or Learning Disabilities).
  • Reviewing relevant content and training standards in the national policing curriculum, existing supporting learning resources, initial learning, custody training, personal safety training (restraint and communication skills), mental ill health training and public protection. 
  • Developing new learning tools to reflect the requirements of the Mental Health Concordat, which may include knowledge apps enabling operational officers to access guidance in real time at incidents, and refresher training for existing staff covering issues around restraint, custody and mental health.

Inspector Michael Brown, who tweets as @MentalHealthCop, provides advice to officers across the country on responding to mental health. He has written a blog for our newsletter about the need for better legal knowledge in this area.

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