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.
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.