Mr McConville, a specialist and of the Head of the Actions Against the Police to at Irvings Law, has successfully represented a client whom was detained under the Mental Health Act by Police Officers from Bedfordshire Police. The worst thing about this case was that Mr McConville’s client had just been the victim of a sexual assault and is a sufferer of a developmental language disorder (receptive and expressive), oppositional defiant disorder and generalised anxiety disorder with social anxiety. Mr McConville’s client for the purposes of this case report is named ‘Jade’.
On the 4th February 2019, Jade’s mother contacted Bedfordshire Police to report that Jade had been the victim of a sexual assault the night before (3rd February 2019). Due to this, Jade had had locked herself in the bathroom of the family home. Upon receipt of this report, Bedfordshire Police sent their Police Officers to attend and they also requested the support of the Mental Health Street Triage Team due to the concerns of Jade’s state of mind.
Upon arrival at the home, the team comprised of a PC, an EEAST Paramedic and an ELFT Mental Health Nurse. As per the edited bodyworn video footage (which was eventually disclosed to Mr McConville after it being withheld by Bedfordshire Police for over six months), this said team were clearly aware at the time of this incident of Jade’s above mentioned disability. Further, the attending Police Officer confirmed that there was no reason to ‘drag’ Jade to the hospital as there are ‘no powers’ to do so under the Mental Health Act 1983; a position agreed by the Mental Health Staff also in attendance. Unfortunately, Jade was later ‘dragged’ to hospital in handcuffs following detention under S136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. However, after assessment at hospital, Jade was then discharged almost immediately and she returned home.
In light of what was before them, the attending Officers should have engaged with Jade via an appropriate adult and/or medical practitioners trained in dealing with individuals who are suffering from a clear mental disability and/or are victims of a serious assault. Instead, the attending Officers discriminated against and victimised Jade in respect of her said disability and rather than respecting the same, engaged directly with her which then set in motion her diagnosis’ which then resulted in her being restrained and detained under the Mental Health Act.
Mr McConville alleged that this detention was therefore manifestly unlawful with not been founded upon any lawful authority under the Mental Health Act 1983. In addition, Mr McConville claimed that Jade had also been assaulted during the said arrest as the use of force upon her (handcuff etc) was in the consequence of an unlawful detention. Further, Mr McConville alleged a breach of the Equality Act 2010 whereby in his view, the attending Officers had clearly discriminated against Jade in respect of her disability rather than respecting the same and trying to help her following being a victim of an awful crime.
Bedfordshire Police’s legal team initially resisted Jade’s claims but a week before she was due to serve proceedings against them, a settlement was agreed but the details of which do not wish to be disclosed by Jade.