The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has recently published their analysis of the use of force and detainees with mental health issues. There is a strong indication from the data that there is a direct link between ‘scant mental health services at night’ and an increase in the police’s use of force.
Five years of cases in which force was used on members of the public by police were reviewed by the IPCC.
The results revealed that those suffering from mental health issues are more likely to be;
- restrained by police officers;
- to die following the use of force;
- to experience more than one use of force;
- to be subjected to restraint/force in custody.
The report also identified that half of the incidents involving the use of force took place between 9pm – 3am, when services are less available. In seven out of ten cases, force was used against people in a hospital setting when police were called to assist the healthcare staff.
Following the publication of the report Chair of the IPCC, Dame Anne Owers, has stated;
“Our report raises real concerns about the consequences of using force on people in mental health crisis. People understand and expect that our police officers should have the power to use force when it is necessary to protect the public… However, officers must be accountable for their use of force, particularly when it leads to death or serious injury… There is an urgent need to invest in appropriate mental health services that can prevent such crises or support people through them.”
Recommendations have been suggested following the revelation of this concerning issue. Firstly, that all forces should train officers to use communication techniques to de-escalate potentially difficult situations without the need to use force, and secondly that forces must ensure their officers make special consideration to the needs of vulnerable people when they plan operations.
At Southerns, our specialised Actions Against the Police department have a great deal of experience in bringing claims against the police where they have acted inappropriately. For further information or to speak to us about pursuing a claim against the Police, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us on Burnley: 01282 422711, London: 0203 0969250, Manchester/Cheshire: 0161 3595730, Blackpool: 01253 922123, or Email a member of the team directly.