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knocker

A disturbing incident

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Yesterday an incident occurred that disturbed me a great deal. You will have to bear with me a little for a little general background.

 

My ex-wife remarried and three years ago her husband died. She has never quite regained her equilibrium since then and I've known for a while that she is quite unstable, drinking too much, etc, but helpless to do do anything about it except extoll her to seek help. Without too much success I'm afraid.

 

Anyway, cutting a long story short in the early hours of Sunday morning having been drinking she took an overdose of pills. Nothing serious or life threatening, this really was a cry for help, and then rang the victim support help line. She then fell asleep and woke up later and carried on as normal, even to the extent of ringing me three times.

 

Unbeknown to her the victim support people had informed the police and around 11.00 three policemen turned up accompanied by a paramedic crew. The police wanted her to go with them to hospital to be examined She refused and phoned me. I subsequently spoke with the copper he said that if she doesn't cooperate they will be forced to take it further. I said meaning and he said let's just leave at that shall we.

 

Fast forward. A couple of hours later I had a phone call from Fiona who was being detained in the Royal Cornwall Hospital and to say she was distressed is putting it mildly. Apparently she was under a police section authorised under the mental health act known as a 136. Under this she can be detained until a psychiatric assessment has been carried out. But this is the crunch.

 

Three policemen manhandled her from her home kicking and screaming, she is seven stone soaking wet, even to the extent of forcing her to the ground. She was put in an ambulance and strapped down. Bear in mind not long before she was offering the copper a cup of tea.

 

I jumped in a taxi, the hospital is ten miles away, and found her in A & E awaiting the psychiatric assessment in a very distressed state which is hardly surprising. Eventually the psychiatric social worker and a psychiatrist turned up.and we had a short chat. They were quite obviously appalled at the treatment Fiona had received from the police and quickly arranged for a taxi to take her home. I should have said that they had dragged her out in just her night clothes with nothing to change into. Fortunately I was wearing a warm jacket that she used. I think the chat was quite useful as it at least provided some contact numbers for Fiona to receive some help.

 

But are we living in a police state where three can turn up and haul a seven stone woman out of her home, in her night clothes, on the basis of one phone call? I sincerely hope the prat who instigated this get's hauled over the coals as I suspect he might when the social worker has finished with him. I would take it further myself but Fiona could do without any further aggro.

 

Anyway that was my disturbing incident.

 

EDIT

 

This was a Sunday afternoon and the A&E waiting room was packed.

Edited by knocker

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This is very distressing and while I am in no way condoning their behaviour, if someone has taken an overdose they MUST be seen by a doctor. People can feel fine hours later but irreparable damage may have happened to their liver and other organs.

I hope that this is a turning point where she, and you, can get access to some help. Although you are no longer married you obviously care a great deal for her. I wish you both the best

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Yes I appreciate your point Cakie and I quite agree. It was the actions of the police I don't agree with. She had actually taken 8 propranolol tablets.

Edited by knocker

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It is very hard for the police and everyone involved. I know someone who has had to deal with a person with Bipolar during an episode, trying to keep them calm while waiting for the police and health officials to arrive. When someone they do not know tries to intervene emotions tend to go haywire.

As you say, very disturbing but to all involved. I hope she gets some support from the mental health service. Unfortunately sometimes it takes such a major event before they are involved in the UK.

Best of luck

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Thanks for your wise words. As I see it there are two basic issues here (obviously there are more). Firstly, if the helpline contacted has a policy of contacting the police, should they inform the person that they will be doing so? Secondly, if later it is explained to the person involved that it's in their own interests to be medically checked out and they understand the reasons behind this, have they the right to refuse? If they do is the next step to automatically restrain that person and forcibly remove them under a police section?

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I think it's important to point out that in a distressed state people can become incredibly strong. I am trained to handle people appropriately in such situations but I can tell you if a patient is in a highly charged state, even a child can often mean at least two people are needed to restrain.

I'm not saying for a second that your ex wife is lying or wrong, all I'm saying is you'd be surprised at how strong someone can be that they require handling.

I hope you get to the bottom of this and she gets the help she needs.

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Knocker, I take it that she in in her home at the time she was detained and not out in a street or other public place, if so there was no power to detain under section 136 of the Mental Health Act - this power is only applicable in a public place where in the opinion of the officer(s) she is thought likely to cause harm or danger to herself or to any other persons and then the police have the power to restrain her and take to a hospital where she could be detained for up to three days to allow proper assessments to be made. Under common parlance this is also known as a 'Three Day Order'. 

 

The proper procedure under the circumstances on private property and the police had concerns for her well being should have been to have called a doctor to the scene with a mental welfare officer, who, if they considered she was in danger could have the power to section her but at least these people should have been more properly experienced and qualified to enable them to make the decision.  

 

It seems likely that the police action was well intentioned but with a bit more thought and patience, it may be that the situation could been avoided - I don't know, I wasn't there.

 

Part of the problem with today's coppering is that the police in general spend so little time on the beat meeting people and honing their coppering skills - instead they are dashing around in cars responding to incidents in a 'fire service' manner, which often does not give too much time for reflection.

 

Should you or your ex wife wish it should be open to you to make a complaint against police - this can either end up as a formal discipline investigation where the officer(s) could possibly be charged under the discipline regs, or it could be dealt with by means of an 'Informal Resolution', meaning that they would be given suitable advice but that is for you and your ex wife to ponder. The other danger is that by resurrecting this in a formal manner with emotions still running high it could make matters worse. 

 

Obviously very trying times - it sounds like you both could do with some support from people with experience and level heads. I wish you both good luck.

Edited by mike Meehan

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Yes I appreciate your point Cakie and I quite agree. It was the actions of the police I don't agree with. She had actually taken 8 propranolol tablets.

 

It's the old rock and a hard place scenario. From what you've reported the police were on the heavy handed side, and while I'm not 100% excusing their behaviour I do have to say that from their point of view they did the right thing, perhaps in the wrong way? If they had left your ex-wife alone without getting her checked over by medical professionals and subsequently something had happened then how would you feel? I hope everything works out ok for you and your ex, depression and mental unwellness are horrible things which so many of us could write very long books about :(

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Knocker, I take it that she in in her home at the time she was detained and not out in a street or other public place, if so there was no power to detain under section 136 of the Mental Health Act - this power is only applicable in a public place where in the opinion of the officer(s) she is thought likely to cause harm or danger to herself or to any other persons and then the police have the power to restrain her and take to a hospital where she could be detained for up to three days to allow proper assessments to be made. Under common parlance this is also known as a 'Three Day Order'. 

 

The proper procedure under the circumstances on private property and the police had concerns for her well being should have been to have called a doctor to the scene with a mental welfare officer, who, if they considered she was in danger could have the power to section her but at least these people should have been more properly experienced and qualified to enable them to make the decision.  

 

It seems likely that the police action was well intentioned but with a bit more thought and patience, it may be that the situation could been avoided - I don't know, I wasn't there.

 

Part of the problem with today's coppering is that the police in general spend so little time on the beat meeting people and honing their coppering skills - instead they are dashing around in cars responding to incidents in a 'fire service' manner, which often does not give too much time for reflection.

 

Should you or your ex wife wish it should be open to you to make a complaint against police - this can either end up as a formal discipline investigation where the officer(s) could possibly be charged under the discipline regs, or it could be dealt with by means of an 'Informal Resolution', meaning that they would be given suitable advice but that is for you and your ex wife to ponder. The other danger is that by resurrecting this in a formal manner with emotions still running high it could make matters worse. 

 

Obviously very trying times - it sounds like you both could do with some support from people with experience and level heads. I wish you both good luck.

 

Mike, thanks for the above.

 

She was in her home and in fact had rang me not that long before. She was certainly detained under section 136 of the Mental Health act and as I've mentioned previously was forcibly removed from her home and strapped down in an ambulance. By the reaction of the social worker and the psychiatrist I could see they were far from happy with this.

 

I would support her in a complaint but I don't feel she needs the aggro this would entail and the time better used getting her some support.

 

I totally agree with your second paragraph.

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I think it's important to point out that in a distressed state people can become incredibly strong. I am trained to handle people appropriately in such situations but I can tell you if a patient is in a highly charged state, even a child can often mean at least two people are needed to restrain.

I'm not saying for a second that your ex wife is lying or wrong, all I'm saying is you'd be surprised at how strong someone can be that they require handling.

I hope you get to the bottom of this and she gets the help she needs.

 

I take your point Lauren and funnily enough Fiona would agree with you as for some years she was a senior carer in a care home. She wasn't actually distressed until they started forcibly removing her from her home in her night attire.

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I'm very saddened by your story but hope that it may have the 'silver lining' of bringing Fiona's troubles to a wider spectrum of professionals who can offer support and treatment.

 

Mike is correct in what he says about a person being in their own home but, depending on the total dose, she did take a drug that can have dangerous effects on the heart/blood pressure and as such hospital monitoring would be needed. 

 

This should be an opportunity for the services involved to review and improve their response protocols - wait and see what happens before formally complaining. Fiona will be angry, rightly so! - use that anger as a positive step on recovery road.

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Mike, thanks for the above.

 

She was in her home and in fact had rang me not that long before. She was certainly detained under section 136 of the Mental Health act and as I've mentioned previously was forcibly removed from her home and strapped down in an ambulance. By the reaction of the social worker and the psychiatrist I could see they were far from happy with this.

 

I would support her in a complaint but I don't feel she needs the aggro this would entail and the time better used getting her some support.

 

I totally agree with your second paragraph.

I know that they have a system of adult social care in Cornwall because my mother was in receipt of this for many years before she died - probably a route could be seeing her GP and seeing what advice he/she has to offer - like everything else some care officers are still wet behind the ears whilst others have a wealth of experience - I think it would be an avenue worth exploring then you can make your decisions on what you find.

 

I think from your earlier post that it is probable that with the lifeline being activated the controllers of the system would have notified the ambulance who in turn would have notified the police since at that stage they would not be sure of what they were going into, or at any rate that is the usual system.

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Thanks to everyone for their responses. Hopefully the one good thing to come out of all this is that she now has a way forward with the guidance from the relevant professionals.

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Hello Knocker,

 

I am very sorry to read of the unfortunate experience you and you ex wife had to endure yesterday and fully sympathize with you.

 

Depression and alcohol dependency is a terrible thing as I can confirm from personal experience. My mother in law died through being an alcoholic and our middle son is a recovering alcoholic. I pray that your ex wife seeks the appropriate treatment to prevent alcohol takes a complete foothold.

 

The standard of attention/care  varies a great deal from area to area and even GP practice to practice. My mother in law never really got the help that we sought for her in what was a very traumatic time following the death of her husband and my wife and I trying to bring up 3 young sons at the time. Her doctor seemed more interested in persuading her to go into a nursing home for respite or permanent residence, which he just so happened to own. A bit of a conflict of interest.

 

Our middle son was totally out of control drinking at least 15 cans of strong cider at a time plus small bottles of spirit. . At one point we placed him in a private rehab centre for a fortnight  and was told by the rehab assessor that if he had not come in when he did he would probably only have another fortnight to live, but unfortunately that was all we could afford. He was soon back drinking as heavily  as before although he was trying to give up. because paradoxically he did not like alcohol. His doctor was not very sympathetic with my son's plight and Andrew in frustration because he was desperate for help became aggressive and the doctor had him removed from his practice. He had to re-register with another local practice, who changed their mind and refused to place him on their books even before they had seen him. In the meantime in his desperation to cut down on his intake and ultimately give up he was suffering ever increasing incidence of fitting.

 

He was without a doctor for 8 weeks and on one occasion he fitted and was taken to A & E. We tried to explain that he would need to be seen quickly as without further drink he would suffer a further fit, but the response we received was almost unbelievable, which was to take him home and give him some more alcohol. We were truly desperate and did not know which way to turn during that very dark period in our lives.

 

Now for the good news. He was eventually allocated a new doctor in an adjoining village. There are some good GP's out there who understand alcoholism and not just how it affects the patient but also the rest of the family. His first doctor who no longer wanted anything to do with him, had in the early days of his developing addiction point blank refused to let my wife go into the surgery with Andrew, although my son was perfectly happy to have her with him. The new doctor I cannot speak too highly of. He certainly saved my son's life. Even at his first interview he made a point of calling my wife into the surgery to discuss everything with her. To cut a long story short, the new doctor was able to communicate with my son as well as provide the appropriate medication to prevent fitting. He also arranged for 3 months rehabilitation in Devon. Andrew went in on his birthday, and I said to him as I dropped him off on that day that it was the best birthday present he could ever have. Indeed it was. The date he entered rehab was 25 May 2011 and that was the last time he drank alcohol.

 

He has now got his life back on course and working as an electrician

 

Knocker I hope that this posting has given you reassurance that things can get better and send your and your ex wife my best wishes as I fully understand what you must both be going through at this moment in time.

 

Kind Regards

 

Dave

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Thanks very much Dave. Hopefully she can now turn the corner. Funny enough I was on the phone to her just now (making sure she was okay) when the police arrived and she went into slight panic mode so I said let me speak to them. It was a different copper to yesterday and I pointed out that the police do not have the power to detain someone under section 136 of the Mental Health in their own home so his colleagues were out of order yesterday. He went all defensive and said he didn't know anything about that but was just here to see if Fiona was okay. I said okay but everything is in hand and we left it that.

 

I agree entirely concerning GPs and thank the lord your son found a good one in time.

 

Thanks again Dave and I'll pass on your best wishes to Fiona.

 

cheers

 

Malcolm

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Stop and search policies, Secret trials,  etc..., yes, I would say we live in a Police state

That's a bit OTT under the circumstances - one of the first duties of a police officer is the preservation of life and I feel quite sure that was their intent in Mrs Knocker's case - they just did not go the right way about it according to the rules, perhaps they thought they had no choice if they thought her life was in danger.

 

You expect to be protected by the police and if the occasion arose you would go to them for help. They are only human the same as everybody else the majority are genuinely trying to do the job to best of their ability.

 

This is nothing like a police state - those are the types of things you had in Nazi Germany and other totalitarian states.

 

One of the interesting things about that job - often you are damned if you do and damned if you don't but those of us who did the job volunteered so I for one don't really have a gripe, it all went with the territory.

 

The other side of the coin was a couple of years or so ago when a couple of plastic policemen (PCSO's) stood on the bank of a lake after a youngster had fallen through the ice debating the pros and cons of health and safety aspects rather than take immediate action in trying to get him out. 

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Knocker, some advice that is very important that Fiona take on board.

 

It is vital she attends all her appts as due to the strain on Adult Services, she will be discharged if she doesn't attend often enough and it might be difficult to get her help as easily again. I hope she takes this opportunity and holds on to it.

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Knocker, some advice that is very important that Fiona take on board.

 

It is vital she attends all her appts as due to the strain on Adult Services, she will be discharged if she doesn't attend often enough and it might be difficult to get her help as easily again. I hope she takes this opportunity and holds on to it.

 

Thanks for that Lauren. So do I.

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Hi Knocker,

First of all I hope Fiona is well and is making a good recovery.

I spoke to an ex police officer about your story and he said first of all the Police have a difficult job.

The last thing the police want to do is sit in a hospital when they could be out and about dealing with other things.

You said it was a cry for help - she was taken to a place where she could get help.

Apparently overdoses can take a while to take effect so even though it was some hours later, she will have still needed to be taken in for checking out.

If a patient is kicking a screaming then the police need to do whatever is necessary to protect themselves, other people around and also the person from harming themselves.

Fiona might be 7 stones, but if she is thrashing about and not coming quietly then it might have taken three officers to deal with the situation safely.

What would have happened if everyone had gone away and she had been left alone and come to harm? The police would have been hauled over the coals for not dealing with the situation.

I have every sympathy for Fiona and her situation but on the other side I have sympathy for the police who often can't do right for doing wrong.

All the best to Fiona.

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One problem here we haven't got any witness's as too what happened at the house. So we don't know if anything triggered Fiona's response or the Policeman's response. Without that you can't really judge the situation.

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One problem here we haven't got any witness's as too what happened at the house. So we don't know if anything triggered Fiona's response or the Policeman's response. Without that you can't really judge the situation.

 

Yes that's true PIT but I think we can make an educated guess as I spoke to both of them on the phone  immediately prior to the 'arrest'. He indicate he would implement section 136 if Fiona didn't go voluntarily and she was adamant she wasn't going. So then the struggle began. The police have visited twice since (different police) and said quote,"perhaps the actions were a bit OTT".

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One problem here we haven't got any witness's as too what happened at the house. So we don't know if anything triggered Fiona's response or the Policeman's response. Without that you can't really judge the situation.

100% agree

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100% agree

 

Do you also agree that it's perfectly legal to implement section 136 in someones home?

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Do you also agree that it's perfectly legal to implement section 136 in someones home?

It isn't but perhaps they weren't arrested unbder section 136 at the time and were arrested for another reason and then the officer applied section 136 once outside the property.

Or perhaps a too literal interpation of accessably by public pavement. Mmmmmmm.

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