This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but all the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't pay my salary.


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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Insecurity

Last week Inspector Gadget discussed the difficulties of getting people sectioned or treated for mental illness. This isn't just a Ruralshire issue.

In Blandmore, the difficulty is not getting the person sectioned (well, that is difficult, but not as hard as the next stage). The difficulty is once they have been certified as crazy/in need of help, actually getting them held in a psychiatric unit in any kind of effective way. For the sake of non-police readers, usual psychiatric units are wards in hospitals and are the place people are taken when FORCIBLY "sectioned" by doctors.

This suggests they are equipped in some way to deal with serious mental illness. They are not. Among the many things that local psychiatric units are NOT able to do, are:
  • Accept patients with the wrong postcode. If you turn up at the door with a patient from another vicinity, you will have to remove them to their local hospital. Of course, once you arrive there, the local hospital will advise you to take them to the hospital closest to where you detained them. The best thing to do at this point is to start banging your head against a nearby wall until you are sectioned yourself.
  • They can't transport violent mad people to secure units. Believe it or not, most of these units rely on normal ambulances for this and as paramedics won't take violent patients, who know what happens to them.
  • They won't restrain violent mad people and forcibly sedate them without police help (which the law forbids us from giving, at least until after someone's been assaulted).
  • They seem unable to close the door to the unit.
  • Or lock said door once it is closed.
  • Or close windows to the secure wing.
  • Nine times out of ten they will not allow the police in with a mad person found wandering on the street, even though local policy designates these wards as the best place for them.
  • They cannot provide a nurse/guard/padded room for the mad person whilst awaiting assessment by a team of doctors (two police officers will have to remain for up to 8 hours to do this).
  • Psychiatric wards will not treat people who are "incurable". Basically, if you are so mad you are incurable, you will never get accepted into a psychiatric ward no matter how dangerous you are to the public. The prisons won't take you either, nor will police custody, so you are free to do as you please. I recommend mass murder. Lots of it.
I spend maybe a fifth of my time dealing with problems caused by the incompetence of this country's mental health services. If anyone knows of a ward where they DO do any of the above, please let me know and I will transfer to that force area immediately.

In the meantime, if you're mad, depressed, suicidal or murderous, just go on calling the police as we're the only people who can't hang up on you. Not without an IPCC investigation, anyway.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in all good bookstores and online.

27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our local ward will take people directly from us if they're mad enough, but only between 7am and 3pm on weekdays. I am busy educating all the local mad people about this, in the hope that they will be considerate enough to restrict their calls to us to within these hours. Otherwise its that old 8 hour wait thing, followed by the asesment doc saying 'nooo, he's totally normal, what are you on about??' as the patient tries to stangle himself with his own hands...

06 March, 2008 17:14

 
Anonymous Tom Reynolds said...

I think that the violent ones are safer in the back of one of your vans than one of my ambulances. I'll happily follow you down the road (or travel in the back of the van) in case they do something awkward like stopping breathing.

Also our call-takers can't hang up on people either.

I agree with the rest of it - have you ever been involved in a section (136 or other) that went smoothly?

06 March, 2008 18:00

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Not blaming you guys - my view is that the mental institutes should have strait jackets and secure vans for these people.

06 March, 2008 18:32

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the above only refers to adults. A juvenile is a completly different thing. They can`t be sectioned under the mental health act (I work in Northern Ireland),they have no secure accomodation in NI, an A&E will require the police to stay with the child,(until someone takes custody, usually an aunt or older sibling). The crisis response team, ha ha ha ha ha, don`t do juveniles, drunks, drug addicts and anyone else for that matter.

It is a disgrace and the government is to blame. I am sick of it all.

06 March, 2008 18:47

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once knew a guy who in the morning tried to hack his hands off with an axe.

Once at A&E he ran off and tried to jump off a tall building.

After being coaxed down (by me) and about 9 hours later everyone was in place for a Mental Health Assessment.

He was assessed.

He wasn't "Mentally Ill" and wasn't a suicide risk. He was refused admittance.

He hanged himself from an "anti-hanging/collapsable" shower rail in the Mental Health Hospital before we could get him out.

He's now dead.

06 March, 2008 20:59

 
Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

Bloggsy you just haven't got it yet have you.

These people are NOT mad, violent or dangerous. They are 'customers' who are to be 'engaged with' and provided with a 'service'.

Besides, why are you wasting your time dealing with anything which will not produce a 'detection' I ask?

By the way; the troll has come over to my site now which should give you a break!!

06 March, 2008 21:13

 
Blogger blueknight said...

It starts to get interesting when a sectioned patient assaults one of the Hospital staff. Statements, hours in custody with appropiate adults then bailed and returned to the Hospital, or kept in custody and bailed back to the Hospital by the Court and finally sentenced which involves a continued or longer stay at the Hospital. Can you see a pattern emerging?

06 March, 2008 21:39

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'By the way; the troll has come over to my site now which should give you a break!!'

Sorry, I've come back over here now, the scenery is much much nicer!

06 March, 2008 21:48

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an appropriate topic for a troll to pop up on

06 March, 2008 21:56

 
Anonymous Thomas said...

You are way too literate and knowledgable, too politically astute and far too experienced to be a basic constable, or even a Sergeant.

With the breadth of policing experience you reveal in your writings you must at least an Inspector; if that were indeed so, then lots of previously puzzling things fall rather neatly into place.

I think you ride horses as well.

Not to worry, though.
Keep up the good work.

Thomas

07 March, 2008 10:33

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unrealistic demands on the police regarding the mentally ill?

A few years ago, armed police shot dead a schizophrenic man who had reacted to their warning by pointing a pistol at them. At the inquest, the police were told (I suppose by the coroner) that in future they should consider the possibility that someone with mental illness may not act rationally to a warning and should make allowances accordingly.

I still haven‘t figured out what he meant they should have done instead. Wait until a suspect‘s lethal intent is firmly established by letting him get off at least one shot before opening fire, I suppose.

No that it mattersm, but from memory, the shooting was in Bristol and the weapon turned out to be an air pistol.

(may I add, I was shocked that a serving police officer could use the phrase ‚mad person‘ –by applying such crude designations to sufferers of a wide range of complex psychological disorders you can only serve to further stigmatise the already vulnerable fruitcake community).

07 March, 2008 14:35

 
OpenID hdavekhodgson said...

There‘s one example of the police dealing with the insane that was all over the news in 2006 yet doesn‘t seme to have been commented on.

Some nutter (Abu Izzadeen aka Trevor Brooks but still a nutter) was ranting at the Home Secretary for having the temerity ‚to come to a muslim area‘. A police officer tried to stop him. Did anyone see how tiny the police officer was? He would have been too short for Time Bandits and his helmet nearly came over his eyes. He was completely ignored by the nutter and eventually wandered off rather disconsolately, perhaps to look for Ken Dodd.

Is this really the kind of police officer the modern force employs? Is the Met is trying to build bridges with the Hobbit community?

Finally, how can anyone be stupid enough to post an insult to an Islamic extremist under his real name? (I‘m really not that stupid –I actually just have a grudge against someone with that name. My real name is Jacqui Smith but my friends in the police call me The 1.9% Solution‘ and you can find me using:

http://www.jacquismithmp.co.uk/b5f63202-9d88-93f4-c132-ec17b494e203?PageId=e610dae8-9c68-cd94-c1f7-b60ecac33f33).

07 March, 2008 15:29

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PC Bloggs,

I think you must be at least a Chief Inspector and i think you like salmon fishing.

Ed

07 March, 2008 15:38

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought this was just localised incompetence!!!
having a large bridge in my patrol area where people queue up and try and jump off(or pretend to try depending on if their ill of just want attention from an ex who's spurned them, we have to take them all in 136!) At least 4 a week more at the popular time (xmas and new year)i seem to spend a massive amount of my time trying to keep the person in a small side room at the local hospital until either the social workers and psychiatrists turn up, or more usually my shift ends and some poor bobbies on the next shift get to come and take over babysitting. However out of all of the people i've taken in to have assesed only 3 have ever been sectioned, the rest are released and then back up on the bridge the next day, we have so many regulars we know them their names, their histories and half their family!!Happy Days

07 March, 2008 20:15

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

last anon, you're not in bristol are you?

07 March, 2008 22:47

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

thomas - not sure whether to be flattered or insulted but no, I am definitely not an inspector!

07 March, 2008 23:00

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IG says - be flattered!

08 March, 2008 00:24

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

glenmorangie is my friend

08 March, 2008 00:48

 
Blogger uphilldowndale said...

It's no wonder you get left holding the 'parcel' when the music stops, you and the ambulance service seem to be the only ones in the circle to begin with...

08 March, 2008 14:30

 
Anonymous anondeplume said...

Thomas thinks your at least an inspector and rides horses, ed thinks your a chief inspector and likes salmon fishing where as I, well i think youa a female who is in the police!

09 March, 2008 00:24

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is a disgrace and the government is to blame. I am sick of it all."

Unfortunately, the police's heroine, Saint Margaret 'no such thing as society' Thatcher, is to blame. It was she who closed down all the mental hospitals and flogged all the land off to her (party's) rich property-developer friends. The reasoning was essentially "mad people don't vote and are expensive to treat, nurses and social workers are all socialists, so who gives a damn about either?". Twenty+ years on we are all paying the price.

Labour couldn't afford all the land to recreate the asylums / 'mental health units', public enquiries would drag on for years (not many people would want to live next to a new one, no matter how secure) and there are no votes in it, just a lot of expense, so they don't care much either. Of course, there's a lot of expense anyway, for the police and existing NHS services, but that's 'hidden' spending, not the obvious millions that a series of brand new developments would cost.

Of course, Thatcher herself has gone ga-ga these days, but she's got plenty of money so whatever mind she has left still doesn't have to care about the rest of us.

GoodJudge

09 March, 2008 11:53

 
Blogger Drugsblogger said...

As well as lots of other stuff I remain, for my sins a registered psychiatric nurse (RMN) and have worked in an around mental health for most of my working life. When I worked on acute admissions wards it was not unknown for the police to turn up and try to get the local drunks admitted on a 136 because it was less hassle. Also, sometimes 1/2 a dozen burly male cops would arrive at the ward and sling out a dangerous and very mad/ill person (professional term) without warning when the only staff on duty were armed only with their extensive skills - then rush off to the hospital canteen for tea and an ogle of the female nurses. It would have been nice if they'd waited until the meds started working and the patient quietened down.

But you're right about the patheticness of many psychiatric units and services. My local NHS drugs and alcohol team just banned a patient for threats to kill so he turned up on our (non-stat doorstep) immensely cross and withdrawing, without any warning. The police assessed him as relatively low-risk but can he get back in to NHS treatment? No. NHS psychiatric services can be oh-so-selective.

10 March, 2008 15:24

 
Blogger Sergeant Simon said...

Ruralshire, Blandmore, Suburbiaville. Pick any random psuedonym for somewhere under the juristiction of Her Majesties' Government and it'll be the same story.

I don't really get involved with the politics of it, its like your point about banging heads against walls.

I just go and pick up the latest person with a miswired head. Again. And again.

http://policelockerroom.blogspot.com/search/label/mental%20health

10 March, 2008 17:12

 
Blogger kingmagic said...

It seems like the Mental Health Unservices in this country needs sectioning itself.

I know I know we can all come up with anecdotal evidence of jobs we,ve been to were the "client/customer/patient" is so obviously "tonto" and a "screaming jelly wobble hat rack" that we could dedicate a whole blog to just those stories.

But thats the point....it happens...day in, day out. And people are being let down by a unflexible, buracratic system that is in desparate need of over haul.

Mental Health Services in this country is not fit for purpose!

11 March, 2008 20:11

 
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