Statistics say that those with experience of mental distress are 11 times more likely to be a victim of crime than the general population and stand a higher chance of coming into contact with police as a victim as opposed to an offender. However as it stands, the stigma of mental illness means that police officers often wrongly associate those with a mental illness with offending which can result in unfair and biased treatment considering they are on the receiving end of criminal behaviour.
In order to try and prevent incidents like these from reoccurring, mental health charity Mind have launched a guide for police officers which offers them advice on working with people who have a mental illness. Mind are hoping that their new guide combined with mental health awareness training and drop in centres etc will be the fist step in ensuring justice is served to the vulnerable and victimised in our society.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind has said that police often come into contact with people with mental health problems under difficult circumstances and they may lack the appropriate training and confidence to deal with the situation effectively.
“This guide should be essential reading for all police officers, and it packed full of ideas, suggestions and advice about working with people with mental health problems, ideas which we hope will become core in supporting demanding police work. We would encourage local forces to look at some of these projects, such as the appropriate adult schemes or expert-by-experience training and consider how they could be replicated in their own area, to build public confidence in the police, help officers better serve and protect the public, and ultimately grant everyone equal access to justice.”