Content Warning: Police misconduct, abuse, and discrimination
This post is a short overview of how the recent Casey Review relates to the mental health system. There are many more implications for the mentally ill and all intersectional issues so I would really encourage you to do some more research into the review and the topic of police misconduct – it affects all of us, especially the most vulnerable.
What is The Casey Review?
The Casey Review is an independent investigation and review of the standards of behaviour and the internal culture of the Met Police in the UK. Baroness Casey was appointed to head up the review in October 2021 after the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer and several other deeply troubling incidents. The final report has just been released (March 2023) and it is a damning condemnation of the Met Police.
What Did The Review Find?
The police were found to be institutionally racist, misogynistic, and homophobic. Specifically that it has failed to protect the public from officers who abuse women; that organisational changes have put women and children at greater risk; and that female officers and staff routinely experience sexism.
Much of what is found in the report isn’t a surprise to the communities who face discrimination and targeting from the police, and also echos what was said in the MacPherson report back in 1999 after the murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence. This isn’t a news – it’s a continually pressing issue that cannot continue to be ignored. This isn’t news – it’s a continually pressing issue that cannot continue to be ignored.
What Does it Have to Do with Mental Health?
Mental Illness has been criminalised in this country for a long time. Police play a key role in enforcing the Mental Health Act (which is used to section people against their will). This means their attitude, organisation and behaviour can have a huge direct impact on those of us with perceived mental health difficulties.
As Mind puts it: ‘This matters to us because we know that people with mental health problems are more likely to be victims of crime, more likely to feel that impact more acutely, and less likely to get the support they need’. And yes – people with mental health problems are more likely to be the VICTIMS of a crime, despite continual stigma that we are more likely to perpetrate crime.
One key way this directly impacts mentally ill people and the mental health system is the institutional racsim. Black people are already 5x more likely to be sectioned, and to reach the mental health system through ‘negative’ routes such as police and court. And this is one of the reasons why – the institutional, systematic racism that pervades our society and police. Once within that system Black people are likely to face more trauma and forced control, a lack of appropriate care and understanding. Their distress likely compounded by the racism they face daily anyway, more trauma is created within the system and only compounded further if they also face homophobia and sexism.
The ways the findings of this report impact the mental health of individuals, and the mental health system are myriad. It is directly in opposition to justice, freedom, and healing.
Ways to Help:
- Sign up to become a Mind campaigner
- Look for alternatives to institutionalised care that you can support in your area
- Contact the Met Police and put pressure on them
- Contact your local police and MP to ask that they review their own behaviour
- Donate food and supplies to local charities that support your community
- Raise your voice however feels best for you – maybe you can use art, or song.
- See this page for a list of further reading looking at the idea of police abolition and how our systems function for a deeper understanding (and a much better look at ways you can help!)
- There’s not one way to make change, it happens together!