Home Office and Black Mental health UK to hold summit on policing and mental health

The Home Office is working with Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK) on preparations for a policing and mental health summit. The event, which will take place on the 23 October at Central Westminster Hall, aims to:

  • challenge the police and other services on their current practices related to the treatment of vulnerable people
  • enable the police and other services to share good practice and develop new ideas on issues such as the identification of people with mental health issues, transportation, and the use of physical restraint
  • agree further actions required by central government and national agencies to improve practice around working with vulnerable people

Representatives of service users, key national stakeholders and frontline practitioners from across the public and voluntary sector have been invited to attend.

The Home Secretary will open the event with a keynote address, with other speakers including Matilda MacAttram, Director of BMH UK and Minister for Care and Support Norman Lamb MP.

Delegates will be able to put questions to a panel of experts, and in addition, participate in workshop sessions focussed on the key themes related to the end-to-end journey of vulnerable people in contact with the police.

One of the driving factors behind this event for BMH UK is our organisation’s concern over data which shows that people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities are 50 percent more likely to be referred to psychiatric services via the police.

Although there isn’t a higher prevalence of mental illness among this group they continue to be disproportionately subject to detention under the Mental Health Act and the high contact with the force, particularly when in crisis, which has meant that policing is now synonymous with mental health care for black Briton.

Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said:The issue of mental health when it come to the treatment of people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities is now widely recognised as one of the most pressing issue affecting this community to date. However our communities have never had the opportunity to discuss the issue of police involvement in the way vulnerable people from our communities are treated when in need of mental health care at a national level.

The levels of coercion by the police has had tragic results in a number of cases and shattered community confidence in the police, this needs to change. Vulnerable people in need of mental health care do not want contact with the police – that is the last thing they want to see. What they should be getting is compassionate and human mental health care at the point of need. This will be among the issues discussed at this summit.’

Read event details here: BMH UK – HO invite summit on policing and mental health 23 Oct 2014


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