The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has been accused of using mental health awareness week to ‘tout for business’ following a now-deleted tweet that was published on the IOPC’s Twitter feed.
The tweet, seen by Emergency Services News, read: ‘Do you know your rights in terms of mental health & the police?
‘In England & Wales, the police are trained to identify possible mental health crises and should respond to you with care.
‘If this is not the case, you can make a complaint.’
The ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ hashtag was included in the tweet.
However, many members of the police community saw the tweet as an attempt to ‘tout for business’ at a time when staff absence due to sickness owing to mental health issues is at an all-time high in the police service.
Marcus Johnson said: ‘Once again, the IOPC touting for business for any excuse to throw officers under a bus, yet who holds them to account when cases they bring collapse?’.
Karen McNeil said: ‘Imagine doing a job which means you sadly see some of the worst of humanity.
‘Unimaginable horrors and then the subsequent struggle to maintain you own well-being – and at the same time, the IOPC are tweeting this!?’.
A tweet published on an earlier date by the IOPC points out that officers in the Metropolitan Police alone deal with a mental health call once every four minutes.
Adam Commons, Chair of the Leicester Police Federation, tweeted:
‘Whose bright idea was this tweet? I’d suggest that an organisation that breaks police officers’ mental health with protracted investigations doesn’t have the right to wade into this.
‘And secondly, mental health crisis should be dealt with by properly trained medical professionals.’
In July last year, police chiefs warned that police forces around the country were facing a mental health crisis “like never before”, as figures showed that more than 75% of police officers had suffered from mental health difficulties in 2021.
The devastating impact was detailed in a report from the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) following a survey of 12,471 rank and file police officers.
Seventy-seven per cent of officers reported facing difficulties with their mental health during 2021 with 90 per cent saying it was due to work, the report said.
A spokesperson for the IOPC told Emergency Services News:
‘We deleted a tweet we issued yesterday (9th May) regarding Mental Health Awareness Week, as we felt that the reaction to it risked detracting from the week’s important objectives.
‘Our “Know Your Rights” campaign was developed with our Youth Panel. They highlighted the fact that young people often don’t know how to complain about the police and often aren’t confident to do so. This is significantly compounded for people with mental health issues We have a statutory duty to improve public confidence in the police complaints system, our Know Your Rights’ campaign was designed to help us fulfil that duty.
‘On several occasions, the IOPC has publicly highlighted the fact that the police are left dealing with people in mental health crisis because their needs and risks have not been adequately managed by others. We have called for a concerted system-wide response which goes beyond policing to resources in community, health, welfare and specialist services.’
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