Mental health detention called unacceptable by charity boss
- 27 Aug
A charity leader has said that the detention of mental health patients in police cells is unacceptable.
Paul Netherton, Assistant Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police has said that a man was held in police custody for 48 hours due to the lack of specialist beds available, reports the Plymouth Herald.
A trainer with Plymouth and District Mind, Debbie Roche has said that poor mental health does not make a person a criminal.
“However, the transporting of people experiencing a mental health crisis in police vehicles, and then detaining them for up to 72 hours without loved ones, friends and family around in time of need, is criminal. Police officers are not equipped with the appropriate skills to respond to a mental health crisis. The care and support available should be delivered by trained health professionals in a safe, health-based environment. People experiencing a mental health crisis may feel incredibly frightened and disorientated. Such crises need care and compassion, not confinement and criminalisation. Indeed, being incarcerated like a criminal may add to the distress, making the situation worse. Of course, there is also the issue of how people feel about their experience in a police cell once recovered from their ordeal. The stigma associated with the experience can be debilitating as well as shaming. Unfortunately there will always be someone in crisis somewhere. If a place of safety was required at such time, why couldn’t it be more a place of sanctuary than of fear? Is it too much to ask for a 24 hour haven for those experiencing mental distress? Admittedly the current financial climate is placing pressure on those that make decisions. We have some excellent services in Plymouth, led by excellent organisations, particularly in the third sector. Surely better use of those existing services, along with good working partnerships and expertise, could find a solution. Mental health issues will always be a factor in life, but they don’t always need to be regarded as problems. With raised mental health awareness, early intervention programmes and prevention initiatives, the number of people experiencing mental health crises could be reduced considerably.”
Plymouth Community Healthcare have said that they are committed to reducing the number of people detained by police rather than given specialist care.
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