City of London Police has become the first UK force to carry out a mental health checklist to identify issues when interviewing suspects.
The Mental Health and Neurodevelopmental Checklist has been developed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
It aims to improve the depth and quality of information provided to CPS prosecutors before they make charging and case management decisions.
The questionnaire also helps to ensure suspects and defendants with mental health issues are accurately identified.
Commander Umer Khan, from the City of London Police, said: “I am extremely proud that the City of London Police are the first in the country to have successfully used this excellent resource to help identify mental health issues at the early stages and ahead of the interview process.
“People’s mental health is very important to our force and this checklist helps us to secure the best outcomes for those with mental health-related concerns whilst obtaining positive outcomes for the victims.”
Michael Mallon, District Crown Prosecutor for CPS London South, said: “The use of the checklist in this case helped the prosecutor review the case in a timely way, avoiding the need to send case action plans addressing the defendant’s mental health conditions.
“That the officer in charge [PC Nsiah)]was able to complete the Mental Health and Neurodevelopmental Checklist to such a high standard allowed the CPS mental health policy to be properly applied and for the case to be prepared to a high standard by the prosecutor.
“The joint team effort by the prosecution team, including the officer in charge, reviewing lawyer and court advocate, is to be commended.
“The properly completed checklist allowed for decisive action to be taken and avoided continual back and forth between the CPS and the City of London Police. The case was brought home by the prosecutor and justice was secured for the victim.”
Recent studies have shown that in magistrates’ courts, almost half of defendants attending court from custody, and one in five defendants attending on bail from the community, have a diagnosable mental health condition or disorder.
CPS mental health guidelines say it is essential that vulnerable individuals are identified as early as possible, assessed as to whether they are fit to plead, and then supported throughout the criminal justice process so that they can take part fully and fairly in their own proceedings, or diverted to mental health services, when appropriate, at the earliest opportunity.
The City of London Police volunteered to be one of five pilot forces to trial the checklist. The checklist ensures that information sharing between agencies is prioritised, the rights of vulnerable individuals are upheld, and case handling is efficient, lawful and practicable.