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Mental health workers to deploy with police

By johnboy - 3 June 2011 63

ACT Policing and ACT Government Health today launched a world-first trial embedding mental health clinicians within an operational policing environment.

Chief Police Officer for the ACT Roman Quaedvlieg and Ms Katrina Bracher from ACT Government Health officially launched the Mental Health Community Policing Initiative at the Winchester Police Centre with Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

Chief Police Officer Quaedvlieg said the initiative is a world-first approach for police in recognising, relating and responding to people living with a mental health illness.

“We have reviewed and researched a number of models from around the world. This approach of embedding clinicians within our ACT Policing Operations centre has never been tested before. Clinicians provide direct support to police on the r-oad during peak periods,” he said.

The launch of the trial of the mental health clinicians allows ACT Policing members to have mental health expertise at their finger-tips.

“The clinicians provide expert advice and arrange for specialist assistance to officers in the field, allowing police to better assess a situation or individual who may be living with a mental illness — ultimately, allowing for more informed decision making and outcomes — a better outcome for police, a better outcome for the individual, and a better outcome for the community.”

Clinicians have been working in ACT Policing Operations (radio communications) for two months and have already received more than 170 calls for assistance.

The inaugural mental health training course, based on the proven NSW Police Force training package, will begin next week (Tuesday, June 7). All sworn police officers will undertake the training.

“While mental illness is a health issue and often not a law enforcement matter, we, as police, have a moral obligation to support those in our community who may have a mental illness,” Chief Police Officer Quaedvlieg said.

[Courtesy ACT Policing]

What’s Your opinion?


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63 Responses to
Mental health workers to deploy with police
1
canberralocal 7:08 am
04 Jun 11
#

No doubt this will be of interest to all regular posters in the thread, “Don’t have a domestic in your grow house” given the concerns raised in that thread about mental health and law enforcement generally, and how they relate to each other.

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2
Watson 10:27 am
04 Jun 11
#

Sounds like a good initiative to me.

“Clinicians have been working in ACT Policing Operations (radio communications) for two months and have already received more than 170 calls for assistance.”

Interesting that they only officially launch the strategy after they’ve already been trialling it for 2 months. That usually means they had doubts about the implementation. Or maybe they just didn’t want to wait for the Minister to make time for the media presentation…

And I don’t think anyone expects the police “to support those in our community who may have a mental illness” as such, but it’s clear that a proportion of the more serious crime is due to mental health issues and therefor it must be a good thing to have advice on hand on how to best defuse tricky situations to avoid people being harmed.

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3
Special G 11:40 am
04 Jun 11
#

Bit of a misleading headlive there JB. Were they to deploy they would be out and about able to respond and actually assess the mental health patient by looking at them and speaking with them. I am not sure how effective they are going to be at the other end of the phone.

Put them in a car and make them respond to MH incidents.

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4
Violet68 11:52 am
04 Jun 11
#

“While mental illness is a health issue and often not a law enforcement matter, we, as police, have a moral obligation to support those in our community who may have a mental illness,” Chief Police Officer Quaedvlieg said.

Totally agree

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5
The Frots 12:56 pm
04 Jun 11
#

Perhaps we can get some sitting off in a room next to the ACT Assembly as well…………………………I can see some use for that move!

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6
Deref 2:02 pm
04 Jun 11
#

Sounds like an excellent idea.

Unfortunately there’s been so much publicity over so many years about the extreme under-resourcing of mental health in the ACT that I wonder if this is just going to spread existing resources even more thinly.

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7
Violet68 5:47 pm
04 Jun 11
#

And I don’t think anyone expects the police “to support those in our community who may have a mental illness” as such, but it’s clear that a proportion of the more serious crime is due to mental health issues and therefor it must be a good thing to have advice on hand on how to best defuse tricky situations to avoid people being harmed.

I most certainly do expect Police to support people with a mental illness in the community – the same way I expect them to support and protect any of the other vulnerable people in our society. Given that this project has already been operating for “two months”, recent events have me wondering how and IF Police are actually using it.

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8
nobody 5:57 pm
04 Jun 11
#

Terrific improvement. Society used to have some men in white coats who would arrive in a special van to fit a special jacket to people who are experiencing a mental breakdown. We realised this action was less than ideal and so stopped, but then didn’t replace that we a new improved system.

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9
Violet68 6:09 pm
04 Jun 11
#

nobody said :

Terrific improvement. Society used to have some men in white coats who would arrive in a special van to fit a special jacket to people who are experiencing a mental breakdown. We realised this action was less than ideal and so stopped, but then didn’t replace that we a new improved system.

Apparently, the new improved system is called the justice system where you will be judged on the existence and severity of your illness and probably punished for it.

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10
Mental Health Worker 6:22 pm
04 Jun 11
#

Deref said :

Sounds like an excellent idea.

Unfortunately there’s been so much publicity over so many years about the extreme under-resourcing of mental health in the ACT that I wonder if this is just going to spread existing resources even more thinly.

Indeed. This is a tacit acceptance that the Crisis Team isn’t able to perform this role, which it should be able to. Also two clinicians simply can’t cover Thursday to Sunday 24 hours – do the maths. Thursday to Sunday is 4 days, or 96 hours, and a public servant works 36-ish hours oer week. When one of them is on leave, or sick, there won’t be cover.

The Canberra times reports that they’ve received an average of 6 calls a day – this sounds like very poor use of resources – dealing with one phone call very 6 hours. “Embedding” them in the police call centre sounds like it achieves nothing more than would be achieved by increasing the resources of CATT so that they can promptly answer calls from the police – presumably the initiative has been developed so as to give police priority access to a MH worker, but in the process it takes resources away from elsewhere. There’s a finite pool of MH workers in Canberra, and ACTMH always has vacancies.

MHW

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11
Mental Health Worker 6:24 pm
04 Jun 11
#

oops a couple of typos – should be 36-ish hours PER week; and EVERY six hours…

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12
nobody 6:48 pm
04 Jun 11
#

Violet68 said :

nobody said :

Terrific improvement. Society used to have some men in white coats who would arrive in a special van to fit a special jacket to people who are experiencing a mental breakdown. We realised this action was less than ideal and so stopped, but then didn’t replace that we a new improved system.

Apparently, the new improved system is called the justice system where you will be judged on the existence and severity of your illness and probably punished for it.

I mean the first response to someone having a mental breakdown, before an incident reaches the courts. We send the police, trained to subdue criminals, armed to inflict lethal harm. This type of first response from the police (well meaning, but not trained for these situations), has resulted in deaths and serious injuries.

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13
Special G 12:17 pm
05 Jun 11
#

nobody said :

Violet68 said :

nobody said :

Terrific improvement. Society used to have some men in white coats who would arrive in a special van to fit a special jacket to people who are experiencing a mental breakdown. We realised this action was less than ideal and so stopped, but then didn’t replace that we a new improved system.

Apparently, the new improved system is called the justice system where you will be judged on the existence and severity of your illness and probably punished for it.

I mean the first response to someone having a mental breakdown, before an incident reaches the courts. We send the police, trained to subdue criminals, armed to inflict lethal harm. This type of first response from the police (well meaning, but not trained for these situations), has resulted in deaths and serious injuries.

First response is family and friends – when they fail Mental Health when they fail the Police. Then the Police bear the responsibility for everyone elses failings. Recent Supreme Court findings clearly outline this.

If someone commits an offence the appropriate action for Police to take is to send them before the Courts. Then MH etc can get involved to work out whether the underlying issue is bad or mad. It is well known in Canberra that a little bit of mad will get you off a whole lot of bad.

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14
Violet68 2:05 pm
05 Jun 11
#

Special G said :

nobody said :

Violet68 said :

nobody said :

Terrific improvement. Society used to have some men in white coats who would arrive in a special van to fit a special jacket to people who are experiencing a mental breakdown. We realised this action was less than ideal and so stopped, but then didn’t replace that we a new improved system.

Apparently, the new improved system is called the justice system where you will be judged on the existence and severity of your illness and probably punished for it.

I mean the first response to someone having a mental breakdown, before an incident reaches the courts. We send the police, trained to subdue criminals, armed to inflict lethal harm. This type of first response from the police (well meaning, but not trained for these situations), has resulted in deaths and serious injuries.

First response is family and friends – when they fail Mental Health when they fail the Police. Then the Police bear the responsibility for everyone elses failings. Recent Supreme Court findings clearly outline this.

If someone commits an offence the appropriate action for Police to take is to send them before the Courts. Then MH etc can get involved to work out whether the underlying issue is bad or mad. It is well known in Canberra that a little bit of mad will get you off a whole lot of bad.

Family and friends bear the responsibility each and every day 24/7.

A defence of mental illness is currently viewed as a loophole used to escape punishment. The perception of a perpetrator feigning madness can avoid sentence is not supported by evidence. Only 1% of charges are dismissed under the Mental Health Criminal Procedure Act. There is extensive evidence that people with severe mental illness are more likely to be convicted of misdemeanours than their mentally healthy counterparts and to be incarcerated for longer periods. In view of the high number of people with mental illness who do not have their charges dismissed, it is no wonder jails and detention centres have become “defacto” mental institutions.

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15
creative_canberran 2:24 pm
05 Jun 11
#

Sounds like a great idea, but we still need to work on getting tasers out there for senior officers. For all the negotiations and reasoning these new staff will enable, Police are still very limited in what they can do should a mentally ill person threaten members of the public or take a hostage (exemplified in the past week by two incidents involving custody disputes and children).

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