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Mental health and custody: a follow on study

Cummins, ID



Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to report the findings of a small scale indicative research project.
The project explores the assessment of detained persons in police custody by Forensic Physicians (FP).
Design/methodology/approach – A range of information was collected in every case where custody
staff had identified a mental health concern and requested an FP assessment. As well as information
about demographic factors, this would include questions regarding any links that the individuals had
with community-based mental health services. As well as this information, anonymous custody records
and force adverse incident records for the month were examined.
Findings – In the month of the project, 59 FP assessments were requested. Only six members of this
group had any contact with community-based mental health services: two with a social worker, two with
a CPN and two with a psychiatrist. Of this group, three had not been in contact with mental health
services for over a month.
Research limitations/implications – The size of the cohort and variety of arrangements for providing
nursing and social care support in custody settings may limit the generalisation of the findings.
Practical implications – This study highlights that there is a group of individuals whose mental health
causes concern to the police in a custody environment. In this study, the overwhelming majority of the
group have no contact with mental health services. The research supports the recommendations of the
Bradley Review for wider health care provision in custody settings.
Originality/value – The paper highlights that fully effective community mental health services need to
consider police custody settings as a key point for intervention.
Keywords Vulnerable adults, Police custody, Forensic physicians, Safeguarding, Adult protection,
Mental health service


Cummins, I. (2012). Mental health and custody: a follow on study. Journal of Adult Protection, 14(2), 73-81.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2012
Deposit Date Apr 17, 2012
Journal Journal of Adult Protection
Print ISSN 1466-8203
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 2
Pages 73-81
Publisher URL