Trigger warning: The following blog post contains content that readers may find distressing including graphic records of violence, police brutality, individual and systemic acts of racism, abuse of human rights and harm connected with inequalities experienced with The Mental Health Act. It explores case studies of two South Asian men’s experiences which are also connected to the Windrush scandal brought to light in 2018.
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Case Study: 1
Incident Date: 1997
Situation: A young UK Asian Hindu Male is noticed running in the streets disrobing for fear of his life. A police van drives forward from nowhere and 3 police officers jump out and start chasing the young man in his mid-twenties. He has no family in the country, no next of kin. He is expendable. A UK citizen by birth; his parents and brother denied under immigration laws that later came to be known as the Windrush Scandal that came to light in 2018.
He is forced to the ground, restrained and handcuffed, then placed into the police van to a cell. The police monitor him from the cell door and leave him in the cell for over 2 hours alone, afraid and on the cold floor, shivering.
The young man is assessed by a psychiatrist and referred to a local mental health hospital. The young man is detained meant to believe he has committed a crime, treated as a convict, handcuffed in front of the passing public.
Day 2: The young man escapes from hospital believing his life is under threat, he is new to the weight of the laws applied, he does not know whom to trust. He does not understand why the police attacked him and treated him like a prisoner; a criminal. The police are called in again. He is hiding at his home address; he enters through his kitchen window. They follow him and swear at him as he shows his UK passport. He is dragged out of the window with no shoes and handcuffed again into the police vehicle to be escorted back to the hospital.
Case Study: 2
Incident Date: 2019
E is a mature student studying at a local University in Oxfordshire, UK Citizen; a Windrush descendant of South East Asian background. The mental health team arrive with five police officers to serve a warrant to escort E to the mental health hospital. It is 1 am in the early morning, E is getting ready to sleep but instead he is questioned and asked to comply. E is concerned and agitated. This is perceived as angry and intimidating. Reports wrongly declare that E is not complying with mental health services. He has been complying to date. Reports wrongly declare that he has been in jail and has allegedly assaulted someone. Truth: He has never been to jail and has had no previous or existing convictions.
The police have a back-up in the garden to prevent escape. They are intimidating and have brought with them a forced warrant. E is vulnerable but he has never displayed any harm to himself or others. The warrant says otherwise, restricting any mental health support in a community setting. His carer/next of kin is not informed and they bypass the carer’s right to know. The carer calls the hospital, he is told there is no patient. He is told to call the police. E is forced into staying for four days. He then gets help from his carer D and manages to have him released in 4 days. An investigation into police conduct and AMHT, Oxfordshire County Council ensues.
End of Case Studies.
Experience of the Mental Health Act and thoughts on the reform.
- Police should be restricted in their powers to not more than 2 officers for observational purposes only. They should never be given the power to restrain or arrest a vulnerable adult unless there is a criminal offence and the adult has mental capacity to ascertain the context of his/her wrong doing.
- Warrants issued must be investigated to ascertain the authenticity of the content of the warrant being served to the patient.
- The known family carer cannot be denied access to information and must be present to witness any police involvement or any application of the mental health act.
- The police cannot break the laws in relation to safeguarding vulnerable adults/patients.
- Medical reports and warrants applied must be investigated by the police if questions are raised about the validity of the report/warrant.
- Only approved police officers who passed the additional training should have the right to intervene. The police officers must have yearly training to work in the mental health service and they must have an approved badge of entitlement to be involved in such matters.
- The patient and his family have the right to investigate doctors and any medical staff involved in authorising a warrant to prevent any injustices to humanity and subsequent defamation of character.
Expert by Experience, Oxfordshire Mind.