I’ve had to ask myself recently whether I’m guilty of potentially exacerbating tensions or conflict between the police and mental health services, after a number of suggestions on social media and elsewhere that this is the effect of what I am doing. It didn’t take long to work out that this is precisely what I am deliberately doing, on just some occasions. I would argue this is of necessity, other options being unavailable or unacceptable. In addition to thinking that the management of mental health demand cannot just be about what the mental health system thinks the police should do, I have also come to believe very profoundly, the key to determining the role of the police lies in the rights, protections and views of those of us who live with mental health problems. And somewhere in there, even without us considering the roles and realities of policing, lies tension.
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