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Police watchdog rejects complaint force failed person at risk of suicide

Published 19/05/2016

A complaint was lodged with the Police Ombudsman because officers were not sent out after a man reported his relative was suffering a mental health crisis
A complaint was lodged with the Police Ombudsman because officers were not sent out after a man reported his relative was suffering a mental health crisis

Allegations that police failed a person at risk of suicide have been rejected by a watchdog.

A complaint was lodged with the Police Ombudsman because officers were not sent out after a man reported his relative was suffering a mental health crisis and had cuts to the neck.

Investigators examined a copy of the non-emergency early morning telephone call which was made in November 2015.

The man told a police call handler he wanted his relative detained under mental health legislation to prevent any further self-harm.

The call was referred to a police officer who phoned back 25 minutes later and established that the person was at home, being looked after and was in no immediate danger.

The Ombudsman said that the officer explained the PSNI could not remove them from their own home unless there was a risk to the safety of the person or others, or a possible breach of the peace.

The officer also advised the man to contact the out of hours doctor, but to call police if the situation deteriorated.

According to Ombudsman, the correct advice was issued and was in line with PSNI procedure.

In a closure letter, the investigator explained that mental health legislation only allowed police to detain a person in their own home in certain circumstances including if they were a risk to themselves or others; if there was a risk of a breach of the peace; and if they were unable to care for themselves and were not being properly cared for by anyone else.

The complaint was not upheld.

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From Belfast Telegraph