Nicola Edgington – the IPCC & the police response

5 Mar

IPCC logo

Edgington - Sally Hodkin

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On Monday 4th March, Nicola Edgington was sentenced in court for the murder of Sally Hodkin (top) and the attempted murder of Kerry Clark (below left) in October 2011. At the same time, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) published its report into the police contact with Edgington.

Edgington - Kerry Clark

Below I have collated links to all the relevant reports & media stories I’ve come across in the past couple of days. I’ve also included a link to Storify stories of my tweets on the topic, as well as a debate with Inspector Michael Brown on expanding the role of police in relation to people experiencing mental distress.

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Issues which arose from the case and media coverage include:

  • Whether there is a link between a borderline personality disorder diagnosis and violence (the jury convicted Edgington of murder, finding her criminally responsible not mentally ill)
  • Whether there is a link between a schizophrenia diagnosis and violence (the defence had argued that Edgington was experiencing psychotic symptoms at the time of the attacks)
  • What role mental healthcare providers can play in predicting and preventing rare but heinous violent crimes being committed by people with whom they have had contact or are currently treating

No report has been published into Edgington’s social or mental health care (Edgington was under the care of Oxleas mental health trust at the relevant time) and none are expected for some time (possibly years). Little or no comment has been made so far by the major mental health charities. These factors – combined with others such as a media appetite for the drama of violent crime, conflict and apportioning blame; and the spectre of the dangerous “mental patient” – resulted in media coverage focused heavily on the potential culpability of the police. For instance, the following issues have been raised:

  • Whether police should play an increased role in the management of people with mental health problems
  • Whether all those with whom police come in contact who they suspect are experiencing mental distress should be PNC checked
  • Whether police powers to arrest people in a public place if they think they are in a mental health crisis – under s136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 – should be extended to private dwellings

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This is another extremely rare but tragic violent attack where the link between mental illness, violence and crime  seems reinforced in the minds of the public and media. I’ve written a number of times on this topic. Not because I have an interest in violent crime. Far from it. But it seems the only time mental illness is reported in the media is when a dramatic heinous crime is committed. If the stigma and discrimination against people experiencing mental distress or with a history of mental illness are to be reduced, the myths linking mental illness with unpredictable and violent behaviour must continue to be challenged.

Take a look at the links below and see what you think.

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web links 5

My Storify stories

  • Nicola Edgington, the police & the IPCC (4th March) – First there are my tweets; then a debate with Insp Michael Brown (@MentalHealthCop) on the topic of extending police powers in relation to people experiencing mental distress; then comments from other tweeps.
  • Mental health and violent crime (5th March) – Just because someone who commits a heinous crime once had a mental health diagnosis or treatment does NOT make it a “mental health murder”.

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Police response

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Law

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Mental health & social care commentators

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Media coverage (4th March unless otherwise stated)

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