MPS response to High Court judgement

14 February 2013

New Scotland Yard

MPS response to today's Court of Appeal judgement about to a teenager with autism restrained by officers after jumping into a swimming pool.

The Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal by the MPS, upholding all aspects of a previous County Court decision who found in favour of a teenager with autism who was restrained by officers after jumping into a swimming pool.

The focus of the MPS appeal was not only about the incident on 23 September 2008 but about greater clarification with regard to the police's statutory duties in dealing with the following situations.

Our officers are frequently called by the public and other agencies to incidents involving people with mental health issues or learning difficulties. We are called when others feel they cannot manage without our assistance. Our officers are required to make decisions affecting people with such impairments in difficult, on occasions fast moving and potentially life-threatening or harm-causing situations.

We appealed because we believed that the County Court judgement would make it very difficult for our officers to respond in such situations, that this could fetter their operational discretion and wished for greater clarity in relation to what officers must do in operational situations.

The Commissioner has recognised that there are improvements to be made in how the MPS respond to those in our communities suffering from mental health. He therefore requested last year that Lord Victor Adebowale conduct an independent Commission into the MPS response to Mental Health, which is due to report in March. Lord Adebowale, Chief Executive of the social enterprise Turning Point, is leading the Commission together with a number of independent experts and with the involvement of families and members of our communities who have been impacted by policing responses to mental health cases. The Commission have examined both specific cases as well as policing practice and our partnership approaches.

Today's judgement alongside the Commission's report will help us to examine our policies and develop our training and processes.