We are Scotland’s national collective advocacy organisation for mental health.

In this article, we discuss the importance of lived experienced voices in shaping a new review into policing and mental health.


What is the ‘policing and mental health’ review?

His Majesty’s Inspectorate for Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) is currently undertaking a review of policing and mental health in Scotland as part of their 3-year scrutiny plan. The review considers how prepared Police Scotland are to meet the needs of those experiencing poor mental health, the impact of police interactions, and whether the police are working effectively with other agencies and services to provide support and assistance.


What is VOX’s role?

At Voices of Experience (VOX) – Scotland’s national member-led mental health collective advocacy organisation – we believe fundamentally in the value of lived experience perspectives. As members of the Advisory Panel for the review, we are committed to amplifying the voices of those who have faced mental health difficulties and ensuring their experiences of interacting with the police can bring about positive change.

For many, a police interaction can itself be a traumatising, or re-traumatising, event. For others, a mental health ‘intervention’ can be supportive – particularly when there is an effective link with wider services that can provide tailored, consistent support after the event.


What lived experienced perspectives have been shared so far?

At VOX, we are currently engaging with our members and partner organisations through a series of discussion sessions to understand the barriers and challenges people have faced when interacting with the police. Our members can see a huge value in talking about their experiences, with those who have participated so far stating:

Thanks for giving me the chance to tell [HMICS] about what’s happened to me.

We feel it is important to share these experiences to hopefully help others as the police interactions often added more stress to already very difficult situations.

While still early in the process of gathering experiences, a key emerging theme is the need for more thorough and frequent training on mental health for police officers which includes hearing the perspectives of those with lived experience.

Ultimately, it is by listening to those whose needs have not been met by the police in the past that better approaches can be established moving forward. This review provides a crucial opportunity to ensure that lessons are learned, and action taken.

Commenting on the review, HMICS lead inspector Brian McInulty said:

Our review is focussed on helping Police Scotland improve the delivery of their mental health related policing services, so that people experiencing poor mental health received the best possible quality of service.

VOX Manager Wendy McAuslan said:

We greatly welcome the opportunity to contribute to this review and, in doing so, put our members’ voices at the heart of influencing positive change. It is vital that Police Scotland listen to lived experienced perspectives and use this feedback to ensure they can better meet the needs of those with mental health difficulties in the future.


For more information on VOX’s contribution to the review, please contact VOX Manager Wendy McAuslan on wmcauslan@mentalhealth.org.uk

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