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IOPC takes down mental health Twitter post after it backfires

To coincide with mental health week the IOPC last night put out a tweet encouraging people to complain about the police.

The tweet said the “police are trained to identify possible mental health crises & should respond to you with care” encouraging people to file complaints if they find this is not the case.

It was accompanied by statistics indicating that the Met deal with a mental health call every four minutes, and that a person with severe mental health problems is three times more likely to be the victim of a crime.

The tweet received strong reactions from police Twitter users and has now been taken down by the IOPC. It went out under the ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign which is aimed at improving public confidence in the police complaints system.

Chair of Leicestershire Federation, Adam Commons, said: “Who’s bright idea was this tweet? I’d suggest an organisation that breaks police officers’ mental health with protracted investigations doesn’t have a right to wade in on this. And secondly mental health crisis should be dealt with by properly trained mental health professionals.”

Meanwhile, the Cheshire Fed Chair Jamie Thompson said: “So wrong on many levels. An absolute disgrace to hijack an extremely important week for your own anti police rhetoric. Once again I find myself questioning not only the IOPC’s independence but it’s ability to actually understand the challenges of modern policing.”

Officer wellbeing remains high on the agenda. The Police Federation Annual Morale survey in February found that 95 per cent of respondents found that negative treatment impacted on their morale, and 67 per cent said they would not recommend joining the service.

The tweet was removed earlier today which prompted Chris Bentley, West Yorkshire Police Federation General Secretary to tweet: “Deleting the offensive and misguided tweet does not absolve themselves of it. They certainly don't give officers the same credit if they have made a mistake on social media but quickly realise their error and delete it. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

An IOPC spokesperson told Police Oracle: “We deleted a tweet we issued yesterday regarding Mental Health Awareness Week, as we felt that the reaction to it risked detracting from the week's important objectives.

“Our “Know Your Rights” campaign   was developed with our Youth Panel. They highlighted the fact that young people often don’t know how to complain about the police and often aren’t confident to do so. This is significantly compounded for people with mental health issues We have a statutory duty to improve public confidence in the police complaints system, our Know Your Rights’ campaign was designed to help us fulfil that duty.

“On several occasions, the IOPC has publicly highlighted the fact that the police are left dealing with people in mental health crisis because their needs and risks have not been adequately managed by others. We have called for a concerted system-wide response which goes beyond policing to resources in community, health, welfare and specialist services.”

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