mental health and the authorities

 i read with great interest about the police and the prison service and how they interact in mental health issues.

a section 136 must occur outdoors and be considered a danger to themselves or to others, i do not think it is fare to expect the police to make a judgement call on wether or a not a person is suffering from any kind of mental health issue.

it took 3 years and 11 yes 11 psychriatric reports and a full 28 day assesment under a sectioned 37 issued by the law courts-SO my point is how can the police to be expected to make a major judgement call in minutes when the mental health experts can take years.

THIS case is different the man was assessed by psychiatrist while he was in police custody surely then the mental health proffessional should be blamed and NOT the police

Police officers who detained a distressed and mentally ill man in a cell for more than three days subjected him to “inhuman or degrading treatment”, the European court of human rights has ruled (pdf).

Judges in Strasbourg ordered the United Kingdom to pay more than £9,000 in compensation and costs to the man, named only as MS, for the excessive period of detention he endured in Birmingham in 2004.

Although he was assessed by a psychiatrist while in a police cell, “appropriate” medical care was delayed, according to the unanimous judgment.

“The court held in particular that the applicant’s prolonged detention without appropriate psychiatric treatment had diminished his human dignity, although there had been no intentional neglect on the part of the police,” the ruling declared.

The 42-year-old Briton was arrested by officers called to deal with a disturbance. The man was sitting in a car in a “highly agitated” state, constantly sounding the horn.

He was held at a police station under the 1983 Mental Health Act, which permits someone suffering from a mental disorder to be detained for up to 72 hours for medical examination.

After the detention of MS, police found his aunt at his house, having allegedly been attacked and injured by him. Two psychiatrists agreed MS needed mental health care in hospital for his own safety and the protection of others.

But as he was expected to face a criminal charge and be remanded in custody, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at a medium-secure clinic decided a transfer was not immediately necessary.

Instead, MS remained in police custody for more than 72 hours, locked up in a cell where, the court was told, he kept shouting, taking off all of his clothes, banging his head on the wall, drinking from the toilet and smearing himself with food and faeces.

On the second day of detention, it was decided there was not enough evidence for a criminal offence, but it was only on the fourth day of police custody that he was removed in handcuffs to a clinic for treatment.

The Strasbourg court agreed that MS’s arrest was justified, as was his initial detention in a police cell. It also acknowledged that there had been no intention by the police or health authorities to mistreat him. There was in fact “real concern” to see him transferred to a clinic.

But the judgment said: “The fact remained that MS had been in a state of great vulnerability throughout his detention at the police station. As indicated by all the medical professionals who examined him, he had been in dire need of appropriate psychiatric treatment.

“That situation, which persisted until his transfer to the clinic on the fourth day of his detention, diminished excessively his fundamental human dignity … The maximum time limit for the detention of a person in his situation had not been respected.”

The judges referred to a 2008 report by the Council of Europe’s committee for the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which had expressed concern that people detained by the police in the UK were not always provided with appropriate psychiatric care.

The ECHR judgment added: “The court accepted that the situation had arisen essentially out of difficulties of co-ordination between the relevant authorities when suddenly confronted with an urgent mental health case.

“However, even though there had been no intention to humiliate MS, the court found that the conditions he had been required to endure had reached the threshold of degrading treatment for the purposes of Article 3.”

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