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Opposite ends of legal spectrum working together on mental health
Article date: 24/03/2015
A West Midlands lawyer is working with Wolverhampton police to help them better understand the issues surrounding mental health related call-outs.
Annabel Kay is a lawyer with Higgs & Sons who specialises in matters where mental capacity is questioned, and has already completed a number of training sessions for between 20 and 30 police offices at a time
The sessions aim to help police identify mental health issues quickly in their line of duty and enable them to deal with situations without the use of force or resulting harm.
Working closely with PC Dave Firth, from Wolverhampton Police, Annabel's training has focused on making police aware of their duties under the Mental Capacity Act.
Annabel said: "The purpose of the training with police officers is to inform them of the provisions contained within the Mental Capacity Act and how it impacts on their day to day work - not only when attending an incident, but also when documenting the action taken.
"Principally, the Mental Capacity Act becomes relevant when officers attend a situation in which it is believed an individual lacks capacity and action is needed to prevent further serious harm to themselves or others or possibly even to prevent death.
"What I wanted to make the officers aware of was their responsibilities under the Act, focusing in particular on the action to be taken which is in their best interests as well as the proportionate and reasonable use of force."
It is believed, added Annabel, that a large number of the legal actions brought against police each year are because officers acted in a manner that 'was not compliant with the Mental Capacity Act'.
Annabel said: "The training has focused on making them aware of their duties and the concept of best interests. It has given them a useful way to think about how they can carry out an assessment to determine and record their impressions of an individual's capacity and I provided some examples and scenarios of which they may come into contact. "
PC Dave Firth said the training sessions had proved invaluable to officers.
"In situations where mental capacity is an issue, the last thing we as police want to do is arrest someone. These training sessions have enabled officers working on the front line to think differently.
"We all want to do the right thing and it is good to see teams who normally work at opposite ends of the legal spectrum - police and solicitors - coming together."
Higgs & Sons is based in the heart of the Black Country at the Waterfront Business Park in Brierley Hill. The growing team now boasts 100 plus specialist lawyers available to support clients in a comprehensive range of business and private sectors.