The paper evaluates a range of policy documents, parliamentary debates, academic reports and statutes in an attempt to contextualise the condition of mental health policing in England and Wales. It establishes that mental health care plays an important role in public policing and argues that police organisations need to institute urgent reforms to correct a prevailing culture of complacency. An unethical cultural attitude towards mental health care has caused decision-making and the exercise of police discretion to be neither well informed nor protective in many cases, resulting in the substandard treatment of people with mental health problems. The paper argues that changes introduced by the Policing and Crime Act 2017 and the revised College of Policing mental health guidelines do not go far enough and that more extensive root-and-branch reforms are needed.
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