Series: Key Themes in Policing

 

Series editors: Megan O’Neill, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography and Chair of the British Society of Criminology Policing Network, University of Dundee, UK, Marisa SilvestriReader in Criminology at the University of Kent, UK and Stephen Tong, School Director of Research & Enterprise, School of Law, Criminal Justice & Policing, Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, UK.

Key Themes in Policing is a series that is designed to fill a growing need for titles which reflect the importance of incorporating ‘research informed-policing’ and engaging with evidence-based policing within Higher Education curricula. It will reflect upon the changing landscape of contemporary policing as it becomes more politicised, professionalised and scrutinised, and draw out both change and continuities in its themes.

Key Themes in Policing

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Key Themes and Perspectives
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Police officers deal with mental illness-related incidents on an almost daily basis. Ian Cummins explores how factors such as deinstitutionalisation, community care failings and, more recently, welfare retrenchment policies have led to this situation. He then considers how police officers should be supported by community mental health agencies to make confident and correct decisions, and to ensure that the individuals they encounter receive support from the most appropriate services.

Of interest to police researchers and students of criminology and the social sciences, the book examines police officers’ views on mental health work and includes a chapter by a service user.

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Mental health triage is an intervention implemented across England and Wales that pairs mental health professionals with police staff. Drawing on the perspectives of frontline police staff, and mental health professionals who work closely with them as part of the intervention, this chapter will give an overview of the mental health related work police staff can encounter on the frontline, and the dilemmas they face in their everyday work.

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Within the organisational culture of policing, there is the potential for mental health work to be seen as ‘not proper policing’. Responding to a mental health emergency or other situations involving a vulnerable adult requires a different set of skills to other aspects of police work. However, there are core skills that police officers use – critical thinking, communication skills, information gathering, negotiation and decision making. This chapter argues that mental health work is ‘core police business’.

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This chapter considers how the calls to ‘defund the police’ might impact on police mental health work. Reformist positions have been argued for a shift in funding from policing towards an investment in welfare and community services. In calling for this policy shift, campaigners have highlighted the need for significant investment in mental health services.

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The chapter outlines the main themes of the volume. It highlights the increasing police involvement and the tension that this can create in practice.

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This chapter provides a brief overview of some of the key debates and policy developments in the mental health field. The aim here is to provide an overview of debates in this area and contextualise the potential role of the police mental health work. Themes such as the experience of service users, the stigma attached to mental illness, and the failures to develop fully funded community-based services are examined throughout this volume. The chapter begins with a discussion of models of mental illness, and then explores the stigma attached to mental illness before examining social models of mental illness and considering the impact of social inequality on the experience of mental illness.

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This chapter will explore some of fundamental questions about the nature of policing in a liberal democratic society. This chapter places mental health work in the wider context of the welfare role that police officers undertake. The chapter begins with a brief discussion of the broader politics of law and order of the past 40 years. There are two key claims made here. First, that the politics of law and order has shifted to the right. Second, the political success of the Thatcher and Reagan administrations meant that their political opponents tacked rightwards for the fear of being ‘soft’ on crime. Alongside this, neoliberal influenced policies saw the introduction of market mechanisms or practices into the public sector including the police. As in other areas of the public sector, policing was subjected to new forms of managerialism and audit.

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This chapter will examine the causes of and response to occupational stress that is inherent within modern policing. It identifies the potential causes of stress that are embedded in the policing role. Some of these relate to the nature of the work. For example, it is clear that responding to traumatised people who have been victims of violence or investigating sexual offences will inevitably impact on professionals carrying out this work. Alongside this, in common with other public sector professionals, police officers feel overwhelmed by the bureaucratic demands that come with the role. There is a growing literature that challenges these engrained notions and seeks to develop services to respond to them. Police forces increasingly recognise that the welfare and wellbeing of staff is a priority

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This chapter will begin with a brief consideration of how mental health issues can affect decision making across the CJS. The chapter will then examine police powers under the MHA and the protections offered to vulnerable adults by PACE.

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The title of this chapter comes from Lipsky’s (1980) classic study, Street level bureaucracy. Lipsky’s work is the study of the impact of financial crisis on welfare services in New York. It was also a period when the impact of the first wave of deinstitutionalisation was being felt. This led to an increase in homelessness but also more frequent contact between the police and people experiencing mental health problems. ‘Street-level psychiatrist’ was a term that officers used in interviews with Lipsky to sum up the new role that they felt they were being forced to play. This chapter examines mental health work in the context of broader ‘cop culture’ before outlining new models of policing such as street triage that have been developed.

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