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Police High Command republish mentally ill protocol

Published:Friday | May 31, 2013 | 1:52 PM

The Police High Command has republished its protocol, detailing guidelines on how cops should respond in confrontations with persons who are mentally ill.

This follows the recent revelation by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) that 75 per cent of confrontations between the police and mentally ill result in deaths.

The high command is also calling for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force to be more sensitive to issues relating to the mentally ill.

In a special report INDECOM has claimed that no special measures were employed to handle such confrontations despite guidelines regarding the treatment of the mentally ill contained in the JCF’s Training Manual.

However, in this week’s edition of the Force Orders, the high command says the Court should not be the first choice for mentally ill persons.

It stressed the importance of good relations with community mental health representatives, in order to facilitate an easier transfer process to health facilities for those apprehended.

According to the protocol, the police should respond promptly, and special containment equipment such as a handcuffs be used to prevent the need for lethal or inappropriate force.

It also says under no circumstances should mental health workers be denied assistance.

The high command is dismissing the belief that persons suffering from mental disorders, must first commit an offence, before the police can act on reports that the person poses a public threat.

The high command says responsible officers will now make the protocol the subject of lectures for the next two months.

It says future complaints of police failure to effectively deal with reports against mentally ill persons will attract the harshest sanction, where the report is confirmed.

INDECOM has insisted that those police personnel who cause the death of mentally ill people may be liable to be charged for murder or negligence.


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