The Rising Use of Taser @MentalHealthCop

Mental Health Cop

Today has seen media coverage about Taser use after Freedom of Information applications by the Justice Gap: it takes us again into the difficult and extremely sensitive debate about the use of this controversial item and makes us focus more specifically on the complex area of mental vulnerability. As ever, there is stuff to note and debate here, along with some fairly standard myths that come out every time electro-conductive devices are mentioned. Others who know more about Taser (other electro-conductive devices are available) will probably end up making more detailed points in coming days, but it should be pointed out that many police forces have expanded their distribution of this equipment during this five year period. With more officers carrying it, I suspect it would be unsurprising if it were not used more frequently.

You may remember the case in London in 2011 of Christopher HAUGHTON? –…

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Explaining and Understanding @MentalHealthCop

Mental Health Cop

Every now and then, from time to time, I really do wonder whether I’m actually just wasting my time here? Since I’ve spent sixteen months at the College of Policing, I’m almost exactly half-way through my current secondment and I will admit that I’ve actually started to miss operational policing and even shift work and feel guilty about getting another Christmas off. This is probably not helped by the period since I returned from Namibia having been quite a low point for me, in terms of my enthusiasm and appetite for this work. I’m not going to get in to the specifics of that here because there’s nothing new about the recent examples that have really annoyed me and it’s nothing I haven’t experienced or felt previously – but I post this BLOG as I stop for a Christmas break and hope by 04th January to get over myself and…

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“It deprives you of your identity, and supplies another, simpler one”

Hole Ousia

Submitted as a rapid-response to the BMJ, 6 March 2013:

As a psychiatrist for older adults I have noticed not just a scientific but also a cultural change in our appreciation of memory function as we age. Ten years ago those waiting for my clinic had a range of reasons for presenting but today one predominates: concern about memory loss.

It is not uncommon to hear that whilst in the waiting room our elders are anxiously practising with their family: who is the Prime Minister and how to spell WORLD backwards.[1]

My concern is that a reductionist approach to memory loss in our elderly is now prevailing and that it is not based upon available evidence. The timely diagnosis of dementia is important but we must remember what the evidence tells us: that there are a range of reasons for mild memory loss. It is important…

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Getting Ready to Go: Isle of May

Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Seal visitor centre Almost over for another year

second coaters Still a few ‘second coat’ Seal pups…

Seakl pup 1 …and one or two young pups still about 

Seal pup looking but its time to leave and close the place down

Bare groundJPG The action packed Seal colonies are now quiet

Thursday 17th December comments: That’s it, almost time to go. Over the next twenty-four hours we’ll be closing down the Isle of May after another successful season.

Tomorrow we’ll be bringing off the last of the Seal researchers, cleaning out the buildings and locking the doors. The Seal season is almost over, the birds have long gone and its time to leave the island to the wildlife.

However it won’t be long before we return and start all over again in early spring next year and I suspect between now and then, time will fly. I’ll bring you a full of update of the final moving day as we say goodbye to the May for…

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Capacity to Consent

Mental Health Cop

This BLOG has been some months in the thinking andmaking, including the need for me to pin down several people for a discussion. I’m grateful for their help, but I’ve decided to leave them un-named at this stage: because I want in noway to associate them with criticism of the ideas I sought them out to discuss. They helped confirm what I was thinking, so I’d like to take the hit if one is due from what follows in this post about the capacity of vulnerable to consent to a course of action.

The law presumes that people over the age of 16 have the capacity to make their own decisions and indeed, that they may take unwise decisions, provided they have the capacity to take them. The Mental Capacity Act itself outlines how capacity is enjoyed with regard to a particular decision where a person can communicate their decision…

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A Factor of Ten @MentalHealthCop

Mental Health Cop

Today is the Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons and I type this as I watch it on my iPad.  Firstly, it was amazing to see that as Luciana BERGER, the shadow minister for mental health, introduced the debate, the first interjection from another MP was to highlight the pressure on policing, arising from the amount of demand they face connected to mental health.  This was not the last mention of policing: frequent reference was made to the unacceptable reliance upon police cells as a Place of Safety and the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy HUNT, reference the progress that was made in reducing the use of police cells but that it was still unacceptably high at over 4,000 people a year.

Whilst this figure is right, it is also wrong!  And where it is wrong, it is wrong by at least a factor of ten. …

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A Copper’s Christmas


And now for something just a little bit different…

…A retelling of the Christmas story using detail drawn from a little known historical source – the Daily Crime Bulletin of the Bethlehem Police Department (known by all as the ‘BPD’ – and by some as the ‘Thin Beige Line’).

Published daily by the local Constabulary, the Bulletin offers a fascinating insight into the work of a hitherto unheralded group of women and men – whilst shining new light on an old tale.


Bethlehem Police Department
Daily Crime Bulletin
(Date obscured)

Late Turn – Briefing for Operation Census

– Substantial number of migrants arriving at border during past week;
– Limited community tension reported – no incidents of note;
– Large crowds expected in Bethlehem this evening;
– No intelligence re: pre-planned disorder;
– Terrorism Threat Level remains at ‘Severe’;
– 12 officers on duty;
– Roads Policing Chariot in for repairs…

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Seabird Numbers 2015

Isle of May National Nature Reserve

Puffin Puffins doing well on the May

Guillemot with young Guillemot numbers increased by 12%

Kitti 1 Kittiwake numbers increased by 39%

Razorbill adult Over 3,200 pairs of Razorbills nested

Monday 7th December comment: Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you the highlights of the 2015 season. Today we start by looking back at the breeding seabird populations and (for once) some positive news…

Despite the weather (summer wasn’t exactly a classic!) the breeding birds of the Isle of May showed some positive signs with increases in a number of species. There were welcome increases in Shag, Kittiwake and Auk numbers whilst Tern numbers are starting to show recovery.

Rare species kept a toe-hold on the island including Manx Shearwater whilst there were no counts of the Gulls or nesting Eiders this year. Amongst the breeding passerines Wood Pigeon nested for the very time whilst Blackbird, Wren and Dunnock also nested (all unusual nesting…

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Fernfield #HoleOusia

Hole Ousia

Dr Eric Dow, General Practitioner for Bridge of Allan, took his life on the last day of January 1947.

He died by cyanide fumes in his home and surgery, Fernfield. A dreadful scene like the opening of “Love in the time of cholera”

Dr Eric Dow, at time of death, was bankrupt and his wife had left him.

[21st May 1947.] from omphalos on Vimeo.

My uncle, John Scott, used to talk fondly of Dr Eric Dow. The images in this film are of my uncle at about the age that he first started attending Dr Dow. [the Margaret mentioned in the diary is my mother, Margaret Scott]

The old doctors of Bridge of Allan liked colour. Dr Paterson, his colourful orchids, and Dr Dow his primary qualia. But sadly all colour went from Dr Dow’s life. So terribly sad for a man that could not bear to ask…

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A Little Humility @MentalHealthCop

Mental Health Cop

As with buses coming in groups of three after you’ve waited half an hour, I tend to find issues highlighted to me at the College come in groups. I remember writing a BLOG on Guardianship having had several calls in a few days to an incident involving s7 of the MHA having had no previous incidents of this kind in about fifteen years of policing! But this week has been particularly interesting because it was not a particular piece of legislation or a particular situation that leapt up several times: it was feedback and examples about the police ‘debate’ about their role in the broader mental health system. The feedback from others, including a very senior psychiatrist who I know well enough to know is sympathetic to the police position, was nervously given as only feedback is when it’s something you’d rather not have to give, but nevertheless must.  Some…

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