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IOPC: Mental Health Subject Matter Network Blog

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The Mental Health Subject Matter Network was set up to look at how the police deal with people with mental health issues. By utilising a spectrum of past experiences held by staff within the IOPC the network aims to improve both our own knowledge and understanding, and that of the police, into how best to support the work of the police service in this complicated area

Members contribute to developing policy and positional statements, sharing new developments in policing law and practice, academic research and significant case studies and assisting in fostering relationships with stakeholders and the general public.

As we approach the one year anniversary of the Mental Health Subject Matter Network, I feel a great sense of pride when reflecting upon our achievements. We have worked hard to lay the foundations of the group that will seek to share learning within the IOPC, and identify and address gaps in knowledge around mental health and policing.

One of my personal highlights has been arranging a visit from an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP). This was initiated following feedback from staff who were unclear of the role and powers of other professionals working alongside police in response to mental health crisis care. The session was attended by staff from the Birmingham, Cardiff, London and Homeworker teams.

Furthermore, as a network we have achieved the following in our first year:  

  • The production of a bi-monthly digest on mental health and policing which is advertised to all staff via our weekly staff newsletter.
  • Having our staff attend the RESPOND multi-agency simulation training package. This training was also attended by a range of professionals from the police, NHS and social services.
  • The creation of a mental health and policing library within the Birmingham office which is well stocked with useful books, reports and research. Staff from all offices can access these resources.
  • The production of a mental health aide memoir to assist operational staff working on investigations with a mental health element.
  • The attendance at key events on mental health and policing such as the National Mental Health Forum and the Mental Health and Policing Conference.
  • The curation of a number of events for staff in which external speakers have been invited to share their knowledge. This has included academics, professionals working within mental health crisis care, and also representatives from organisations such as Public Health England.
  • The commencement of a thematic analysis project based on key themes around mental health and policing. Data has been obtained from the IOPC Research Team in order to facilitate this.

Being part of the network has enhanced my knowledge and passion for mental health and policing. This has been further developed by the completion of my study of the MSc Crime Science, Investigation and Intelligence course at University of Portsmouth. As part of this course I completed a dissertation entitled ‘Mental Health and Policing: An Analysis of the West Midlands Police Birmingham and Solihull Street Triage Scheme’.

In the future, I hope to conduct more research within this field on both a national and international scale. Organisationally, I hope the work of the subject matter networks will allow the IOPC to gain recognition as a learning-led organisation. Above all, I believe if we can continue to push the boundaries of sharing knowledge both internally and externally, then we can really make a difference.


Written by Emma Tilley, Mental Health Subject Matter Network Technical Lead.

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