Theresa May to address summit on policing and mental health

The Home Office and Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK) will jointly hold a policing and mental health summit on 23rd October 2014 at Central Westminster Hall.

Home Secretary Theresa May

Mental health service users account for 50% of people who lose their lives in police custody in the UK.

One of the aims of the summit is to challenge the police and other services on their current practices related to the treatment of vulnerable people.

It also aims to 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.

The summit will bring together representatives of service users, key national stakeholders and frontline practitioners from across the public and voluntary sector.

Home Secretary Theresa May will deliver a keynote address. The summit will also be addressed by Matilda MacAttram, Director of BMH UK and Minister for Care and Support Norman Lamb MP.

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.

“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,” Ms MacAttram said. “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.”

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