Crisis? What Crisis?
A doctor calls The Crisis Team to explain that he thinks a patient in his A & E department needs a mental health assessment but unfortunately he has just walked out of the building – destination unknown. They know who he is and have an address for him. The doctor genuinely believes that this person needs help. They are making no sense and are displaying symptoms of paranoid psychosis.
The Crisis Team response is “you need to call the police.”
Not only “you need to call the police” but “they can go round and arrest him under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.”
That’s it for the Crisis Team – involvement over.
We still have a person we can reasonably identify who appears to be having a mental health crisis but no – send the police.
The doctor calls the police where it is explained to him that we certainly cannot go around to an address and arrest anyone for Section 136. Firstly, we “detain” not arrest and secondly we have no power to do this in a private place and the Crisis Team should know this. The doctor is advised to recall the Crisis Team.
He does so in exasperation and is told that the Crisis Team don’t “look for people” it’s up to the police to find him and then present him to them. They aren’t coming out. Back to the police.
At this point I am notified of the situation by the control room. The poor doctor has tried to do the right thing and is getting passed from pillar to post.
I called him directly to offer help. He explained the circumstances and explained that he had been genuinely surprised when Crisis Team had referred him to the police. He described them as “resistant.”
I said that I wasn’t going to be resistant – I disagreed with the Crisis Team but someone had to do something so we would perform the address checks.
I did some intelligence work and then called two of my officers in and briefed them on what I wanted them to do.
This was classified as a concern for welfare rather than a missing person enquiry. The objective was to try and find the male – if we managed to do that we could decide what to do next.
He wasn’t at the given address and so began a few hours of other address checks and enquiries. He still hadn’t been found by the time I went off duty.
Me and my officers probably spent about 6 hours dealing with this. The Crisis Team didn’t.
The day before we had a similar message from the Emergency Duty Team who told us that they “don’t do welfare checks.”
They too had referred someone directly to the police.
This was the day we couldn’t get CAMs out to help with a 13 year old who had threatened his family with knives because they considered he was “having a tantrum.” Police officers had gone to the address and had to talk the knives out of his hand then restrain him to prevent him escaping. There were clear issues here – it was not a “tantrum.”
Three instances of mental health crisis – three instances where the mental health agencies have referred the matter to the police and done nothing with any of them. Phone down. End of.
Crisis? What Crisis?
UPDATE – @Mentalhealthcop has written a great response to this blog which you can view here please take a look.