Tension over police entrance powers

Police could be given powers to enter the homes of people suffering mental health problems
Police could be given powers to enter the homes of people suffering mental health problems

By politics.co.uk staff

Plans to allow police greater rights of entry into the homes of people with mental health problems are meeting opposition in the form of mental health service users themselves.

Mental health charity Mind has released a survey of mental health service users to coincide with the final day of consultation on new care staff intervention plans.

But according to Mind's research, 57 per cent of mental health service users want the right to refuse intervention by the authorities.

Eighty-six per cent said they were responsible for their own safety and 46 per cent did not want police to have greater powers to enter their home without their permission.

One service user said: "I wouldn't want someone making the assumption that I am always vulnerable because I have mental health problems.

"If I have a breakdown, then yes I am 'vulnerable', but not when I feel strong. I am only vulnerable at certain times and in certain circumstances."

Mental health organisations are increasingly anxious the consultation period could end with increased rights to care workers to have access to service users' homes.

"The last thing that is needed is the expansion of powers of coercion," said Anna Bird, policy and campaigns manager at Mind.

"Giving social workers powers of entry blurs the line between law enforcement and care provision. It will erode trust and damage therapeutic relationships. Social workers are advisors not enforcers."

Previous research suggests a blurring of the line of care services between assistance and authority, with the service gradually being given more powers over the people who use it.

Some analysts argue a system which promotes compulsory treatment regimes and detention will be unable to organise safety features as well.


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