Authors: Michael Brown
Event: 2018 TheMHS Conference
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Not Just Doing the Wrong Thing Righter: New Ways of Approaching the Relationship between Police Services and Mental Health Systems Policing has always had a role in mental health: there has been a social service element to our work; the public look to us to manage odd or unusual behaviours, regardless of criminal law; and those with mental health problems are more likely to be victims or suspects of crime. As countries deinstitutionalised much of their mental health provision, demand has risen for improvement in the type and quality of police response to vulnerable people: this often follows high-profile events such as death in police custody or contact; and restraint-related deaths or fatal shootings. I will argue there is a disconnect inherent in our response which has been too operational and focussed on tactics; lacking in a strategic objective. Major inquiries have focussed upon the need to improve officers’ responses through training and partnerships with mental health services but this doesn’t address why we have come to rely upon expensive police and criminal justice responses, often at the cost of effective mental health systems. Improved policing alone will not deliver the outcome we all want – which is health and policing systems working in partnership for the benefit of their communities.