We came on duty on a night shift to find that one of the 5 units available would be written off at the start of the shift to go to a hospital 30 miles away to babysit another person waiting a mental health assessment.
You always get an ‘oh bollocks’ moment when your officers book unavailable straight away because it means that some jobs which need to get done, won;t get done, and someone will be waiting another day to see an officer. Often several units book unavailable right away. Sometimes they are catching up on paperwork from the day before, sometimes they have to make enquiries on previous jobs, often they are tasked to make ‘arrest enquiries’ so the local division can keep the stats up and show those who worry about beans that they are doing their part, regardless of the fact that one bean counted in the arrest department means no beans counted in the victim seen within a reasonable time department (mainly because nobody counts those beans, they’re not important)
The handover from the late shift controller is fairly straighforward. Nothing complicated, most people have been rung back and put off for tomorrow, sorry we didn’t get more jobs cleared but 2 officers (20% of the shift) have been at the hospital since they started the shift.
It turns out that it was actually the early shift who Section 136′d a women threatening to top herself. We get loads of them. They fall into the too difficult box, nobody knows how to deal with them. The only thing we can do is pass them on to mental health professionals. When they’re pulled off a bridge parapet over the motorway, or grabbed down from a tree with a jumper tied round their neck, you can’t really give them a stiff talking to and send them on their way.
The hospitals aren’t geared up to deal with them. They need to arrange a psychiatrist, mental health professional and social workers so they can do an assessment which will say either that their is nothing wrong with them and they should leave the hospital (what happens after they do is no concern of the hospital) or that they should stay atĀ hospitalĀ under a mental health act section for further examination and/orĀ treatment.
In our force area it takes hours and hours. The hospitals refuse to take ownership of the patient until such time as the mental health team are actually there and ready to start their assessment. This means they demand that police officers babysit the patient. On this occasion the early shift took the women in at 11am, handed over to Ā late turn officers at 4.30pm who then handed over to night shift officers at 10.30pm.
The examination took place at 2am, lasted 15 minutes and the assessment was that there was nothing wrong with the patient and she was discharged, back into the care of officers who have then to decide what to do with her. On this occasion we were fortunate enough to find a relative who could take her in. Sometimes we just take them home and within an hour they are back out into the town and standing on a railway bridge parapet crying take me now cruel world. We have no way of dealing with them other than to take them to hospital, and the cycle begins again. Two officers, 15 hours at hospital, 3 hours travelling two and fro from hospital, 36 hours of police time, for what?
I dread to think how many man hours are completely wasted with this cycle.
I understand in some other force areas the officers merely convey to hospital, hand them over and drive off again, within an hour.
What is anyone else’s experience?