Operational response: Policing persons with mental illness in Australia

Miles-Johnson, Toby and Morgan, Matthew ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9437-7519 (2022) Operational response: Policing persons with mental illness in Australia. Journal of Criminology, 55 (2). pp. 260-281. ISSN 2633-8076


Across the globe, policing persons with mental illness (PWMI) in crisis involves significant police work. Police must respond effectively to individuals whose behaviour and language are often erratic, and who may be intoxicated or experiencing psychosis. In Australia, police are often criticised for inappropriately handling mental health crises in the community and for differentially policing PWMI in crisis. To better understand Australian police response to PWMI in crisis, this study conducted interviews with 25 operational police officers working in one of the largest Australian state police organisations. The findings indicate that police response to PWMI in crisis is underpinned by trial-and-error practices, because officers are insufficiently trained to manage PWMI in crisis, and police are resistant to accept tasks considered ‘welfare work’. Officers are also relieved when response to PWMI in crisis includes mental health practitioners. We argue that whilst the availability of interagency schemes in Australia is generally restricted to metropolitan areas, effective policing response to PWMI in crisis should include a collaborative response between police and mental health practitioners.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 05 May 2022 04:51
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2022 05:29
Uncontrolled Keywords: Co-response, mental illness, policing, response, training
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4402 Criminology > 440204 Crime and social justice
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4402 Criminology > 440211 Police administration, procedures and practice
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 23 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 2304 Justice and the law > 230403 Criminal justice
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/26338076221094385
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/48132

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