Health Minister to speak at ACCI & BMH UK National Conference on Policing & Mental Health

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Date: Wednesday 27th March 2013

Health Minister Norman Lamb MP will be speaking at the first national conference on policing and mental health organised by leading agencies from the UK's African Caribbean communities scheduled to take place at the Molineux Conference Centre in Wolverhampton, on Thursday 27th June 2013.

Entitled 'Policing & Mental Health, Coercion or Care? ACCI & BMH UK National Conference 2013' this event offers the first ever public forum where the most senior political figures in both mental health and policing will be able to discuss this issue with leading professionals across the West Midlands and beyond.

Human rights campaigns group, Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK) in association with The African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) have put on this national event as part of their ongoing work to ensure that this issue becomes a matter of priority for the present Government, the new Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and police authorities up and down the country.

Data from the Count Me in Census' reports from 2005 - 2011 show that, of all ethnic groups it is people from the UK's African Caribbean communities that are 50% more likely to be referred to mental health services via the police than their white counterparts. Entry to mental health services via police custody is the norm for black people.

People who use mental health services account for 50% of those who lose their lives in police custody. It is in the area of mental health and policing that many of the most serious causes for concern have arisen over a number of years but continue to remain unaddressed.

The high profile deaths in police custody cases of Kingsley Burell-Brown, Sean Rigg, Olaseni Lewis, Mikey Powell and Roger Sylvester is further evidence that failures in policing of mental health services users, which is impacting people from Briton's black communities in greatest numbers.

Professionals responsible for running or commissioning mental health services, who attend this conference, will learn firsthand what action needs to be taken to improve the treatment of this patient group.

Matilda MacAttram director, Black Mental Health UK said: 'Mental health and policing has been an ongoing concern not only for service users and their families but also practitioners, police professionals working with this group for many years. This national conference offers the first ever forum for these issues to be discussed in a way that will bring about positive change in an arena of mental health care that has been neglected for far too long.'

Alicia Spence services director at The African Caribbean Community Initiative said: 'The statistics show that there is a problem in terms of the disproportionate over representation of African Caribbean's in the mental health system, and even more disturbingly that a significant number access mental health services via the police. This is a concern for the community and this sector as a whole.'

'When people are going through distress, or having a psychotic episode the police being the first port of call is not good, because it criminalises them and impacts on their recovery. The experience is traumatic for them, their families and for the community as a whole. It is also an expensive and ineffective way of dealing with people in mental health crisis. This conference is part of the work needed to change this.'

Speakers include:

• Minister of State for Health Norman Lamb MP

• Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Bob Jones

• Chair of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) David Prior

• Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) Dame Anne Owers

• Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Charles Walker MP

• Her Majesty's Coroner for East London at Walthamstow Coroners Court Chinyere Inyama

• Services director at the African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI), Alicia Spence

• Director of Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK) Matilda MacAttram

• Cousin of Mikey Powell who died while in police custody, while in need of mental health care in 2003, Tippa Naphtali

• Pastor or New Testament Church of God and mental health campaigner Rev Paul Grey

Visit our online registration page at Evenbrite at this link here : http://blackmentalhealthorguk.eventbrite.co.uk and register for the one event that anyone working in the mental health, social care or policing sectors cannot afford to miss.

For interviews call BMH UK Newsdesk on: M: 07947 189 682

Notes to the editor

- Black Mental Health UK is a human rights campaigns group established to address the over representation of African Caribbean's within secure psychiatric care and raise awareness to address the stigma associated with mental health.

- Detention rates for people from the UK's African Caribbean community have doubled over the past five years during the period of 2005 – 2010.

- Almost half the deaths of people in police custody are mental health service users.

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