Taser’s Free Body Cameras Are Good for Cops, Not the People

An interesting re-blogged article from Wired this morning, written and argued by Jake Laperrurque that I think shows an interesting view of the world from a US perspective on privacy and law enforcement. What do you think?

THE COMPANY FORMERLY known as Taser announced last week it’s offering free body cameras to every police officer in the United States. The one-year trial is likely to dramatically increase the number of body cameras used in law enforcement across

Body Worn Camera

the country. But citizens should be skeptical. Taxpayers might not have to pay directly for the cameras, now manufactured under the name Axon, but the devices will still come with significant costs, both to police and the communities they serve, as long as rules governing the cameras’ use don’t exist.

Body cameras aren’t a cure-all for police misconduct, but they can reduce the use of force and the abuse of police powers. They’re a tool for accountability, not a magic potion to fix community-police relations, and like any tool they need to be used properly. Without effective guidelines and community input, body cameras could fall short of the goal of enhancing accountability and, instead, actually decrease trust in police.

For example, when police haven’t recorded at critical moments or have failed to disclose footage, it’s led to serious backlash. And without proper rules, deploying police body cameras en masse threatens to create a pervasive surveillance tool and turn what is supposed to be a check on police into a worrisome increase in police power.

Unfortunately, as an analysis from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Upturn shows, police departments that receive federal funding have some of the least effective policies on issues ranging from privacy to accountability to public input. Departments that get cameras at a discount appear to spend less time considering their impact on all relevant stakeholders and planning accordingly, an unsurprising but still serious development. And now that Axon has entirely eliminated the cost of body cameras, that problem will escalate.

Before police departments begin using body cameras, it’s critical that they first devote serious effort into setting guidelines that will ensure these devices serve their intended purpose, and get input from affected communities. At my organization, the Constitution Project, our Committee on Policing Reform recently released a report that reflects a consensus set of recommendations from civil liberties advocates, former law enforcement officers, and former military officers. Hopefully these suggestions can help law enforcement address some of the most pressing and difficult questions they face in implementing body camera programs.

The most fundamental question with body cameras is, when should they be recording? Studies show that in order to avoid missing events that should be recorded, it’s best to offer clean-cut rules rather than looser, discretion-based standards, and to have clear and strict policies that cameras should be on whenever officers are interacting with the public or engaged in a police action. That said, civilians should know when cameras are on and have the opportunity to opt-out. This is key both for protecting individual privacy and in supporting law enforcement investigations, where officers often speak to victims and witnesses in sensitive situations where individuals don’t want to be recorded.

Another pressing question: When should footage be available to the public? Last year, after Keith Lamont Scott was fatally shot by police in Charleston, South Carolina, body camera footage captured the incident, but it was withheld from the public for days, creating a backlash and intensifying the controversy. This shows that using cameras but depriving the public of access to what the cameras record can backfire and actually degrade police-community relations. Unfortunately, many states have passed problematic laws that severely curtail public access, and sometimes even limit access to the footage by the individuals on camera seeking to file a complaint.

However, while providing some public access seems essential, it’s also important to safeguard individual privacy—and that means redacting personally revealing footage unless the subject of an interaction authorizes its release. Departments not equipped to review thousands of hours of video have faced problems with commercial and spam requests, sometimes conducted for the express purpose of overwhelming departments, that in no way advance the public interest.

States like Washington are taking the lead by creating lawsthat provide access, incorporate privacy protections, and include a formal process to prevent departments from being overwhelmed by access requests. Law enforcement departments that consider adopting a body camera program—along with other state legislatures—should look to Washington’s law and strive to create a similarly balanced system.

Another question that looms large: How to effectively regulate body cameras equipped with facial recognition technology? Facial recognition may still seem like Hollywood dystopia, but Axon plans to incorporate the capability into its cameras in the near future.

There is certainly a role for facial recognition in body cameras—it’s hard to imagine objections to using such technology to locate missing children or identify truly dangerous fugitives at large. But without limitations, these combined technologies could constitute an unprecedented threat to privacy and civil liberties and could mark the end of anonymity. Unchecked, they could be used for pervasive location tracking, or for identifying and cataloging participants at religious ceremonies, political rallies, or protests. Even if such abuse does not occur, the mere threat of it could chill participation in activities fundamental to democratic society.

If facial recognition is coming to body cameras, it should come with appropriate safeguards, like requiring police to get a warrant before using it, as many experts including criminal justice scholars and former law enforcement officers have recommended. Some communities might decide that the risk isn’t worth the reward, and, as Oregon did recently, prohibit the use of facial recognition entirely.

The Axon announcement further solidifies the fact that the overarching question for body cameras is not, “should police have them?” but rather, “since police are going to have them, how should they be used?” It’s critical for both law enforcement and the communities they serve that departments, citizens, and lawmakers tackle the tough questions about body cameras and how to set effective guidelines, and that they begin doing so now.

 

Thank you Jake.

Jake Laperruque (@jakelaperruque) is senior counsel at the Constitution Projects. He previously served as a fellow for New America’s Open Technology Institute and The Center for Democracy and Technology.

What was the Bronze Age?

Reblogged from the fabulous Egham Museum – well worth a visit if you are up looking for bronze age history (just off the M25!) and doing the later Magna Carta, Kennedy and Air Forces memorials. There’s a National Trust tea rooms, Runnymede Pleasure Grounds and the Thames rolling past too.

Enjoy!

Check out the Museum:                                                                 http://eghammuseum.org

Working Safely in the Winter

Yes its not quite over yet so we shouldn’t ignore the weather; cold, wet and or windy let’s stay safe out there! This advice works for sporting events too!!

Reblogged with thanks from EHS Today 

Author Stefanie Valentic  (click for more)   and first published  Dec 05, 2016
As the mercury drops, protecting workers from winter conditions is not something an employer should just plow through.

Table of Contents:

  • Winter Safety from Head to Toe

Santa Claus is the ultimate winter warrior. He comes like clockwork, every year, working a grueling 24-hour shift so that all the little boys and girls receive presents (or coal).

Santa is prepared for the cold weather. This fictional character almost seems to have PPE down to a tee: hat, gloves, waterproof boots and layered clothing.

However, unlike Santa, outdoor workers typically work year-round, rain, sleet, snow or shine with a similarly hectic schedule. So, an employer must take the time to prepare and educate workers about exposure to colder temperatures to avoid injuries and illnesses.

A 2014 study from the National Center from Health Statistics, examined weather-related mortality rates between 2006-2010. It showed that more than two-thirds of deaths in the United States were attributed to excessive cold, compared to one-third of heat-related deaths.

Workers or those with preexisting chronic conditions – including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, conditions that impair thermoregulatory function and those taking various medications – are more susceptible to cold effects, the NCHS study stated.

For outdoor workers, cold stress, hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, and chilblains are the most common ailments. However, with the proper protection and training,  winter-related injuries are preventable.

The First Step

As with all safety measures, the first step to protecting workers from winter conditions is a job hazard analysis (JHA), says Joe Corvello, corporate director of health and safety at American Bridge Co., a 2016 America’s Safest Companies winner.

Assessments should be based on geographic location, type of work environment and duration of work activity exposed to the elements.

Next, the safety leader should perform a PPE assessment to meet the requirements identified in the risk assessment or JHA.

The safety leader also should identify training requirements to educate workers on cold weather working, the risks and hazards associated with that working environment and the PPE required to protect them from the elements and hazards associated with the work activity, Corvello says.

Donald Garvey, construction technical specialist at 3M, says both workers and supervisors should be trained on the following:

  • Hazards of cold work.
  • The initial signs and symptoms of cold stress.
  • Basic first aid for cold stress – especially frost bite and hypothermia.
  • The use of a buddy system to monitor each other.
  • Eating and drinking habits on the job and after work and the need to rehydrate.
  • Sweating which is a cooling mechanism for the body.
  • Medication and other susceptibility factors which could cause cold sensitivity.
  • Clothing – keep it loose, dry and layered.

Once all of the above assessments have been completed, a cold weather working plan specific to the project location and environment can be completed, Corvello says. Additional information in a cold weather plan will cover winterization of equipment, protection of permanent materials in place, snow removal and monitoring/surveillance.

“Having a good winter working plan in place to identify snow removal, gritting and temperature work restriction demonstrates a company’s commitment to keeping workers safe,” he says.

Proper Protection

Even though it may seem like common knowledge to bundle up in cold weather, some workers have not experienced longer exposure to winter conditions or are not conditioned, which could present a hazard if they underestimate Mother Nature. Appropriate PPE exists for all extremities and should be utilized as temperatures drop.

Head
One thing is certain: workers should be protected from head to toe. Starting from the top, a head covering is essential. Specially-designed liners and coverings can work with helmets and hard hats to provide protection in the cold, says Jason Lindula, safety coordinator at Egan Co., a 2014 America’s Safest Companies recipient.

Eyes
A worker’s eyes must remain protected 100 percent of the time to prevent snow blindness and damage from UV rays.

“Typically during winter weather, high winds and sun glare are the most risk to eyes,” Corvello says. “Polarized, foamed-sealed safety glasses with anti-fog provide the best protection from wind chill, debris and sun glare.”

Snow blindness, a condition in which UV rays essentially sunburn the cornea, can be a hazard in winter environments, especially when working at higher elevations, Garvey says. While it is called snow blindness, snow is not required for it to occur. Water or any reflective surface can create the same hazard.

“Even on cloudy days, eye protection should still be worn, as UV radiation may still penetrate the cloud cover,” he warns.

Body
A multi-layering approach to clothing is crucial to protecting workers during hazardous, ever-changing winter weather conditions.

“With all three layers it is nice to have zipper openings,” Garvey suggests. “This allows venting of sweat and customizing the insulation properties to the specific environment to minimize sweating.”

Because weather conditions can change throughout the day, employees can remove or adjust layers. In addition, each layer has a specific purpose. Garvey specifies:

Layer 1 (closest to the skin) – A polypropylene or similar wicking material.  This helps draw sweat away from the body to keep the skin dry.

Layer 2 (middle layer) – An insulating layer of wool or polar fleece-type materials. This provides insulation even when wet. Cotton should not be used as the insulating layer as it quickly loses its insulation properties when wet.

Layer 3 (outer layer) – A nylon or similar material to block the wind.
Winter layers can be bulky, but don’t wear loose clothing that could get caught in machinery, Corvello says. Workers should bring dry clothes to work to change if clothing gets wet, and regular PPE such as safety vest should still be worn over winter items.

Hands
Just as with eyewear, companies should require workers to wear gloves at all times. Gloves for winter work should still be task-specific, such as cut-resistant, while also providing insulation and dexterity, Lindula says.
The use of glove liners can be used with cut-resistant or chemical gloves, Corvello suggests.

Footwear
For outdoor workers, studded overshoes with waterproof properties can provide insulation as well as traction on ice and snow to prevent slips, trips and falls, Lindula says. Shoe/boot coverings with studs also are available.

Shifting Work Indoors
Finally, if conditions prove to be too hazardous, outdoor work should be moved to a different day, depending on the weather forecast and the availability of indoor job tasks.

“Ideally, we like to be inside but we know that’s not always the case. Just because the news says one thing, your location may be different,” Lindula says. “If we don’t think it’s safe to be outside working, we find interior work and put outdoor work off for another day.”

Company policies or guidelines should be addressed prior to the start of the winter season. For Egan Co., if the wind chill hits a certain threshold at 6 a.m., employees are not required to come in unless there is interior work that safely can be done. If temperatures rise throughout the day, workers could be asked to come in at a later time. If hazardous conditions arise later in the day, this is addressed as well.

“Our jobsites will shut down early so employees can go home and don’t have to travel in conditions that may not be the best,” Lindula says.

The Journey to Mental Illness

Reblogged with thanks to Leasa and discover more at lostsouls24.blgspot.co.uk

I dreamt about writing this piece all night and in my dreams it was just right and I got my point across perfectly, so here’s hoping the conscious self is as astute as the virtual one!!

I dreamt about a journey that I’ve been on from my childhood through to police service and the point at which I find myself now. I saw it as a journey and would like to try and put that into writing thus making sense of what I saw last night.

The Time prior to joining the Good Ship ‘Police Service’!

The way I see it at nineteen years old prior to joining the police service of the late 80’s,  I was a middle class child, and an only child at that, fairly protected from the worlds horrors. My Mother was a bit of a bully and my Dad a respected banker. The bullying had taken quite a toll already leaving me lacking in confidence and somewhat socially reticent.

I left school and worked in a bank where I realised I wasn’t as useless as my Mother made out and when a co-worker was accepted as a police officer I also decided to join up, to embark upon the journey it represented. My Mother was adamant that I was making a big mistake but I forged ahead and was accepted starting my voyage aboard the good ship ‘Police Service’ in August 1989.

The ports visited along the way!

The first port the good ship police service visited was training school. The streets here were littered with sexual discrimination  something I had never encountered up until this point. It never really made sense to me back then why I was treated differently because I was female. Of course there were the obvious uniform differences, skirts, tights, a handbag and no truncheon. The commandant demanding of me one parade if I was merely the ‘course mascot missy’ or are you ‘a real police officer?!’ The venom in some chaps faces just because I was there, others because I shared a self defence mat with them I was never really prepared for that. It scolded my young self and provided the wake up call I probably needed that this was not necessarily a holiday rather a voyage of self discovery.

The second port was my initial posting and another liberal dose of sexism. I was nicknamed ‘the strumpet whore’ for no other reason than I was a female. I was naïve sexually so I know for a fact it wasn’t due to any promiscuity! I accepted this name willingly as I wanted to fit in and back then I think I even wore it as a badge of honour representing what I felt I had achieved so far. Along sexism street I was pinned against walls, called names, banned from attending certain incidents and touched up by the sergeant in charge of my probationary two year period. A baptism of fire. I recall very vividly watching a Detective Inspector balling very loudly at a shivering, cold, wet, rape victim in the enquiry office of the station interview room about how she had been asking for it, and what did she expect dressed like that. I think it was at this part in my journey that I started carrying a rucksack for those chips that got gouged out of my shoulders.

As time progressed I developed very chipped shoulders yet I saw them as well earned war wounds. Trophies as you will. I was succeeding where I had been told I would fail, I was proud to be a police officer. The service was the making of me I thought and despite the sexism I enjoyed the camaraderie, I felt like I belonged to something worthwhile and I knew I could be good at it.

The places I visited along the way have shown me the horrors of human nature, I have seen bodies broken beyond recognition, babies raped, and low lives willing to assault and thieve from the elderly. I have held the hands of parents whose children have been snatched, told people their loved ones will never be coming home again and given of myself to allow others a smoother passage.

As I have travelled this route like from all good journeys I have kept images of the things I have seen along the way. The horrors are all stored in my rucksack lest I forget. The sudden deaths, the road traffic casualties, the crashed helicopter pilot, the raped baby, and indeed the sounds of that baby being raped. Many, many memories.

That old adage that the police service deals with five per cent of the population ninety per cent of the time is very true but it was easy to lose sight of this fact along the way. The way I viewed the world and myself was shaped by these experiences and I never really knew what damage they were causing along the way.

The rucksack got heavier and heavier with the flotsam I collected until my first visit to Mental Illness in 2002.

Mental Illness the first visit
 
 
In 2002 I split with my husband getting divorced. I was appointed Detective Sergeant on a Sex Offender Unit and was dealing with paedophiles, viewing their putrid child abuse images day in, day out. A warped perverse world that somehow became my normality. I didn’t cope very well with my personal crisis, the new job, the subject matter and getting in to another relationship with step parenting duties all within a matter of months. In fact it all became too much and I fell ill and had some time off with stress. Now no one ever told me I was visiting mental illness, there were no road signs or maps. In fact it wasn’t something I was even aware of until two years ago. The doctor gave me pills which I took for a while but after I was belittled and laughed at by my police officer partner for being a light weight I quickly agreed that I didn’t need them, for I was a passenger on the good ship police service. I was therefore invincible.
Mentally Ill people were our ‘clients’ the people we dealt with, that person in the cells banging their head off the wall or the street wino who seemed to talk utter gibberish about their time in the military. Oh how we laughed about that. no it certainly wasn’t us the invincible police officers.
Not very long after returning to work I took a five year career break. Deep down I knew why but I never let on, not even to myself. It’s hard to explain, but I knew I wasn’t coping, I knew my mind was weakening but I couldn’t acknowledge it.  I cast out depression refusing to accept that it was actually a part of me now. I left it on the dock and tried to sail away without it.
I had a baby, traumatic in itself with an emergency caesarean, near critical blood loss and a week in hospital being transfused. New baby and parenthood, plus starting a successful property business left me thinking it may just be possible to disembark from the good ship police service. My rucksack was really heavy with life’s chattels and challenges, so we did plan that I would leave the service, run the business and bring up our daughter. However the good ship relationship then sank without a trace just as I was trying to board it, my rucksack proving far too heavy, that together with all our extra baggage it disappeared beneath the waves.
So I found myself a single parent facing an unwelcome return to the good ship police service as I needed to support us financially. I returned to a refurbished vessel,  departments had changed, policies and procedures with them and it felt much like I was entering a parallel universe, everything  the same yet completely different at the same time. New challenges now existed as I tried to balance parental responsibility with the demands of policing and that insatiable see saw between job and your child that can never possibly be balanced. The guilt that goes with that challenge just becomes an extra rock for the rucksack.
Mental Illness the second time around
 
 
Four years in to my return to the good ship police service I find myself two years into a posting on the Professional Standards Department. An unforgiving environment dealing with anger and discontent. Members of the public making complaints about police officers or the service in general, people you had to visit and sit and listen to whilst they spat putrid nastiness at you, in turn police officers feeling aggrieved and affronted by you asking them to account for their actions giving you the run around and / or the cold shoulder plus unsupportive line management heaping more muck in your direction regardless of the weight limits or you being obviously off balance. That’s all before the IPCC cast their shadow in your direction.  It was a hell hole, it is a hell hole.
This is when I visited mental illness again. This is was when I looked in the mirror and finally said hello to my old friend, acknowledging the black dogs reflection for the very first time. Even then it took me six months of physical symptoms, convinced I was dying of some mystery illness before I allowed myself to entertain the dark canine.
Oddly I thought that once I had greeted the black dog and given it a bone it would settle down in it’s bed and go to sleep but how wrong I was. It had days when it hassled me non stop always there never silent, and others when it was perfectly happy to curl up in its basket and sleep. But once he’s come to you, you have a pet for life. He’ll demand attention at the most inopportune moments and sometimes you cannot make any headway through life but for its high jinx.
As I approached the half pay point of having been six months absent from the service and after the captain had commenced the sanctions against me known as UPP (Unsatisfactory performance procedures) for not being at work I forced myself to climb back aboard the good ship police service. Financially I had no choice but I knew it was more a case of when I’d be ill again as opposed to if.  The black dog came too, he won’t be left alone you see, not under any circumstances. he is very insistent that he stays in your company at all times.
This time I found acknowledging my illness out loud to people very cathartic, it seems to make people very uncomfortable I can see that and honestly part of me enjoys watching them wriggle about when I discuss it. But the captain had the last laugh ultimately as the accommodation was never adapted for keeping a pet nor was the workload or type. Nothing ever changed from before I was ill to when I returned. I even found a good proportion of the work I’d left in my tray was still sat there waiting for me six months down the line.
I battled on for a further two years. Despite my dislike of the work I knew it was a guaranteed desk job, with 9-5 week day shifts and this suited my ever present battle with balancing that damned see saw. I knew I was selling my soul to the devil in some respects but it felt like a necessary evil.
Just before Christmas 2016 I knew I was wobbling, I started getting very tearful at work. I found myself dog tired the minute I sat down at my desk, to the point that I could barely keep my eyes open at nine in the morning. I would get so angry at silly things and I felt a burning hatred for the environment and people around me. Completely paranoid, watching people automatically assuming they were talking about me and burning with resentment. It’s like an allergy to work, I could feel myself welling up with tears as I approached the building daily, the hyper ventilation as I approached the office, the nausea as I entered. It repulsed me, I feared it and I’m terrified of returning to it.
Mental Illness revisited
 
 
So here I am again. Revisiting my old stomping ground. Sick. Ill. Unwell. Mad. Zombie like. Slightly agro phobic. Battling demon headaches and constant nausea. Joints aching and swollen. Fearful of the telephone ringing, panicked by work emails and sorely tempted to move to the outer Hebrides and an uninhabited island away from people, policing and myself. Except I guess I would sort of have to be there wouldn’t I!
My rucksack is overflowing and it feels like I’ve been cast adrift in a small rowing boat away. Pushed away from the master vessel I’m bobbing around without direction. I’m out of my depth when I look over the side yet I feel too weak to row anywhere.  If I stand up the weight of my rucksack rocks the boat. I have a map but cannot seem to make head nor tail of it and instead I find myself staring at it bemused. I sort of know how I might be able to get this boat to the shore, I might even be able to tether it when I got there but I truly cannot be bothered. The captain of the master vessel, police service, hasn’t transmitted an SOS message for me and it seems that their expectation is of me saving myself as they have no responsibility or jurisdiction over my predicament.

I am lost on the sea of Mental Illness, my only apparent grid reference is  ST1 GMA.

 

POLICE LEADERSHIP

Reblogged from Mental Health Cop’s great series of articles thank you Insp Mike Brown!

img_0043

 

I heard the Health Secretary Jeremy HUNT deliver a speech at today’s Crisis Care Concordat Summit in London, the first major speech he’s delivered on mental health, we were told. Almost the first thing he did was praise the police service for the leadership shown on the subject of mental health crisis care, driving much of the debate that led to the creation of the Crisis Care Concordat itself. I might be wrong, but my sense was the comment did not land well with everyone! One service user tweeted about this, wondering whether it should be the police driving certain aspects of healthcare provision – and of course, I don’t think there was a police officer in that room who wouldn’t happily see the issues we face being confronted head-on by senior health leaders and commissioners.

History shows another approach became necessary, for a range of reasons perhaps uniquely understood by the police.

BACK SEAT DRIVERS

Following his speech, the Q&A session saw Commander Christine JONES from the Metropolitan Police, the lead for the National Police Chiefs Council asking, “Mental health services are underfunded: at what point will parity of esteem be matched by parity of funding?” Almost immediately, we saw reaction about how senior health leaders were unlikely to challenge as directly as this. Again: the police driving the debate, literally, with the Secretary of State for Health on the general topic of mental health, not a question specifically about policing! Would Commander JONES be asking that question if a senior health leader were doing it or likely to do it? … I doubt it.

After I woke this morning, my attention was drawn on Twitter to an article by Lord BLAIR in today’s Guardian, a former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. This article was bouncing around the conference room at the Oval, in hardcopy … “have you seen this?!” and so it was handed from person to person. It quite obviously divided opinion amongst the non-police professionals present (and on Twitter). It ranged from ‘flabby opinion’ that was ‘not offering any solutions’ to some who thought it was imprecisely making perfectly valid points about the outcomes we see from our current arrangements. It’s obviously not for the police, serving or retired, to tell the health system how or when to ensure upstream intervention in mental health care any more than it is for health professionals to get specific about how the police should discharge their responsibilities under criminal law. However, it is perfectly fair comment for NHS staff at all levels to flag up problems in policing and say, “What are you going to do about it, Copper?!” Or similar.

The main agenda at the CCC today was all about health – a couple of the workshops focussed on policing and legal issues but the main room was all about health. Quite right, too! – the police should be much less of a voice in this, ideally. That they aren’t does lead to certain observations which I make very reluctantly after today’s events. We need to see achievement and progress in this area: not just activity – and this means we also need to describe what we’re actually trying to achieve. The Concordat obliged local areas to produce an action plan, uploaded to the Mind website in 2015 – I’m told this plan should be refreshed and updated by all areas in early 2017. In addition, we heard today about the Five Year Forward View plans that are required, in order to deliver on the NHS England strategy for mental health during the remainder of this Parliament. Of course, those following developments in health will know that various areas have grouped together to produce Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), in order to make the NHS as a whole sustainable in coming years.

PLANS ABOUT PLANS

So what about those 2015 Action Plans – how many areas have ensured delivery of the majority of their contents? If you remember the mapping process set down by Mind: areas were to go from Red to Amber when they’d agreed to some principles to work in partnership; and then Green once uploaded to the Mind website. I remember commenting at the time there should be another colour for completion of the plan, even if just 80% complete. However, one police officer today described his local CCC leadership group as a talking shop where “nothing gets done”. It’s not the first time this month I’ve heard that said, quite honestly. So in addition to those plans, which now need revising, we see then need for more plans after the Five Year report and all of that has to fit in to STPs concerning overall NHS efficiency – the plan of plans!

We know from recent media coverage, that more than half of CCGs are cutting the funding they give to mental health as a proportion of their overall budget, despite suggestions from Government that the proportion should increase. That is the context within which any plan needs to be seen and we know that the trend in terms of crisis care is an upward one – barely a week goes by without coverage on increases in crisis related issues: whether systemtic or individual. No-one who follows current affairs in any detail could fail to understand that there are dynamics at play in society that effect mental health which do go beyond the health service but none of that explains decisions we see to situations ever more towards the social justice safety net that is policing and criminal justice.

I also prepared a question for Jeremy HUNT, in case no other police officer put their hand up. I was going to ask, “What should we conclude about mental health and crisis care if more people than ever before are being detained under s136 MHA, more people are going missing whilst mentally ill, more people are being arrested for offences and then being assessed under the MHA in custody?” There was a sense today amongst (at least some of) the police officers that whatever progress is being made on CrisisCare – and there is lots of it! – it seems to be at the expense of upstream interventions. Those of you who follow along on social media know I’m all too fond of quoting Archbishop Desmond TUTU: “There comes a point you have to stop pulling people out of the river, get upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

POLICING IN MENTAL HEALTH

When I first got involved in working on the policing interface with our mental health and wider health system, I remember specifically saying to myself that I wasn’t ever going to get myself in to the position of being caught telling healthcare professionals how to run their health service or how to deliver on their professional obligations. This was partly a question of manners: I’d be prepared to listen to anyone about the impact of the way we police on them, but it is ultimately for the police to square away competing demands and priorities in how police services are run, held accountable as they are through various processes. I took the view that that the reverse courtesy should be applied in how I worked on mental health.

But if I’ve learned anything in the last twelve years on this topic, it is a conclusion very reluctantly reached and best summed up in a matephor from my other area of professional interest: public order policing. Progress on mental health has come when police officers or police services form a cordon, take ground and hold the line. History shows that problems in health-based Place of Safety provision actually came not from the Concordat – no doubt it helped – but from some forces saying, “Enough is enough: this will have to change and it will change with or without the consent of the health system”. We’ve heard recently about problems in partnerships where the police are being routinely expected to handle the fallout, often unlawfully, of a health system that has decommissioned too many inpatient and specialist beds whilst apparently disregarding s140 MHA and other obligations. History shows that resolution of those operational problems has come from senior officers tweeting to publicly shame the system in to gear and from actual or threatened legal action.

So the lesson appears to be this: the police are bungling around in this arena, still – not always getting it right and we sometimes miss the subtleties or complexities. We are not experts, we are not clinicians and we’re not trying to be. We just have a unique perspective on some of these important issues and one that is all too misunderstood and disregarded. History shows that unless we shout loud and / or agitate on behalf of vulnerable people, we don’t make progress. I’m far from alone in wishing this were not so. As a natural introvert and an experienced public order commander I can tell you that shouting and agitation is occasionally a tactic in taking ground and making progress: it is to be used sparingly, recognised as a restrictive or coercive practice and it is not without collateral intrusion. However, it does remain a legitimate tactic and leadership is recognising when it is required, when the collateral intrusion may be worth the risk and involves not over-playing it. If we want that voice to quieten down, I suspect we need to see fewer, clearer plans about what the destination is and how we get from here to there without violating the rights and expectations of vulnerable people who are all too often caught up in it.

Notice the above didn’t really focus on the public we serve? – neither did today.


IMG_0053IMG_0052Winner of the President’s Medal from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Winner of the Mind Digital Media Award.


SMPL request

The SMPL team are building a comprehensive list of services and support for our ex-servicemen, reserves and their families across Surrey. This will be published in September 2016 and submitted to the Ministry of Defence, the Office for the Police & Crime Commissioner and the Surrey Civilian Military Partnership Board.

ArmedForcesCovenentWe know that there are some amazing people out there helping our ex-servicemen and women and we want to capture them all!

You can help our veterans and their families as well as our reserves by nominating any service you provide for the military community or of any that you know about!

The Categories are:

  • Local Government team or service
  • Charity
  • Self-help group
  • Volunteer team
  • Sports organisation
  • Business

You can tell us by

emailing contact@smpl.org.uk

twitter @SimpleIsntIt

facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=smpl

And please share this challenge as widely as you can – we need to capture national services supplied locally as well. (Just for illustration the Royal British Legion).

Thank you on behalf of all the people you will help by taking part.

Best regards,

Roger

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