Dorset PCC response to HMIC report 'The Welfare of Vulnerable People in Police Custody'

Responding to the HMIC’s thematic report ‘The Welfare of Vulnerable People in Police Custody, Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner and the APCC’s lead on Mental Health and Policing, said:

“We welcome HMIC’s thorough inspection of the welfare of vulnerable people in police custody. This is an incredibly important issue and I am pleased that the report identifies that often police custody is used as a substitute for social and health care. This is an area that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are particularly concerned about and are working hard to address. PCCs have long said that custody is no place for those in crisis or for the vulnerable.

“PCCs and their forces are working hard to reduce the number of overnight detentions of children and people with mental health issues, but it is nonetheless a concern that it is happening in still too many cases – often due to difficulty in finding appropriate alternative accommodation.

“This HMIC report provides further evidence that a victim/ public focused Liaison and Diversion pilot scheme is needed.  In my recent letter to the Deputy Prime Minster, I called for his backing to develop four Liason and Diversion pilots to identify and support those who come into contact with the Criminal Justice System, but who are not offenders. PCCs believe the HMIC report provides further evidence that lends weight to their case for funding and expertise for the pilots.”

BACKGROUND

A copy of the full report The Welfare of Vulnerable People in Police Custody can be found at www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic

In January 2014, the Home Secretary commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to conduct a thematic inspection of the welfare of vulnerable people in police custody, “including, those with mental health problems, those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and children”.

The letter to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, in his capacity as Chair of the Mental Health Taskforce follows a number of discussions with Home Secretary Theresa May, Norman Lamb at the Department of Health, NHS England and Mind. The letter seeks Mr Clegg’s help in bringing together explicit new funding and relevant departments’ expertise to develop four fully researched, evidence-producing pilots in each health region in England to identify and support those with mental health conditions who come into contact with the Criminal Justice System, but who are not offenders. Research commissioned by Mind and Victim Support indicates that 45% of those suffering from serious mental illness were victims of crime last year.  The police also come into contact with vulnerable people with mental health needs when they are neither offender nor victim.  One force alone last year, British Transport Police, directly prevented 631 people from taking their own lives on the railways. 

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