Violence and aggression in psychiatric settings: reporting to the police – 2018

Violence and aggression are relatively common and serious occurrences in health and social care and rates are higher in mental health settings. Despite the National Health Service’s policy of ‘zero tolerance’ of such behaviour, reporting of violence and aggression against mental health staff remains low. This article considers the nature of violence and aggression against staff in psychiatric settings and the process of involving the police to ensure an effective outcome. It outlines each step, from the initial the multidisciplinary team assessment of the incident and its reporting to the police to the making of witness statements, should the case come to court. It also explains the discretionary role of the police in deciding whether to charge and of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in deciding whether to prosecute. The article stresses that NHS organisations need to provide an effective, streamlined and time-efficient reporting process, as this should reduce levels of patient violence, improve staff’s well-being and morale, save costs and make the working environment safer for all.

Raise awareness of the underreporting to the police of incidents of violence and aggression against staff by psychiatric patients and recognise the benefits of reporting such incidents

Develop a framework for assessment and reporting of such incidents committed to the police and to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), in the event of possible or actual criminal proceedings

Develop an understanding of the role of the healthcare organisation, the police and the CPS when such incidents are reported to the police

Susham Gupta, Elvan U. Akyuz, Jonathan Flint and Toby Baldwin
BJPsych Advances, Volume 24, Issue 3 May 2018