A watershed moment? The Adebowale Report into Mental Health and Policing

10 May
 Lord Victor Adebowale, Turning Point chief executive, led the Commission

Lord Victor Adebowale, Turning Point chief executive, who led the Commission

Today, the Adebowale Report into Mental Health and Policing in London was published. Below are links to the report itself (the 4-page executive summary and full 80-page report), as well as media coverage and commentary. More links will be added as they come in. It will be interesting to see how the story is reported and what actions result from the report. Let’s hope that, as one of the Adebowale Commissioners Professor Louis Appleby says, the report is a watershed moment for the police handling of mental illness.

Naturally the report and commission are very much creatures of the police. The focus is on the shortcomings in the performance of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in the context of crime and policing, rather than the wider picture of mental health provision in the UK. Yet many of the recommendations have ramifications for mental healthcare and social welfare provision across the country.  So, now that the Adebowale report has been published, when do we get the NHS and social care equivalent? After all, mental illness is a healthcare issue, not a crime.

As background, the Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing was set up in September 2012 at the request of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, in the wake of the inquest into the death of Sean Rigg. Its brief was to review the work of the MPS in relation to people who had died or been seriously injured following police contact or in police custody, and to make recommendations to inform MPS conduct, response and actions where mental health is, or is perceived to be, a key issue.
The Commission reviewed 50 cases where people had died and 5 were they had sustained a serious injury during or following contact with the police, as well as taking evidence from people with relevant experience in surveys, meetings and visits. It interviewed people with mental health problems, their relatives, NHS and social services staff and serving police officers including Insp Michael Brown (twitter: @MentalHealthCop). Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind, Paul Farmer, was one of the commissioners.
The Commission found there were problems in the following areas:
  • Failure of the Central Communications Command to deal effectively with calls in relation to mental health
  • The lack of mental health awareness amongst staff and officers
  • Frontline police lack of training and policy guidance in suicide prevention
  • Failure of procedures to provide adequate care to vulnerable people in custody
  • Problems of inter-agency working
  • The disproportionate use of force and restraint
  • Discriminatory attitudes and behaviour
  • Failures in operational learning
  • A disconnect between policy and practice
  • The internal MPS culture
  • Poor record keeping
  • Failure to communicate with families
That’s a lot. The Commission’s findings lead to 28 recommendations for change, falling under three areas for action:
  • Leadership
  • Frontline policing
  • Inter-agency working

There are lots of links to explore below. Where to start? For an overview of the report, it’s findings and recommendations, see its 4-page executive summary and Paul Farmer’s blog (Mind charity chief executive and Commissioner). There are is also detailed response by Insp Michael Brown and finally two excellent pieces by Andy McNicoll at Community Care (here and here).


web links 5





Independent Report – Commission on Mental Health and Policing in London




News coverage:


Background to the report



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