“Unacceptable” to use police cells for holding vulnerable people, says peer

11:24 15 October 2012

Lord Adebowale

Lord Adebowale

Archant

The man in charge of an investigation into how the Metropolitan Police deals with mental health incidents has said using cells as holding facilities is “unacceptable”.

Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive of the social enterprise Turning Point, is leading the independent commission into mental health and policing at the Met.

The review is carrying out an examination of cases from over the last five years where someone with a mental health condition has either died or been seriously injured following contact with police.

It was announced following an inquest ruling this summer that the police had used “unsuitable force” to restrain Sean Riggs, a mentally ill musician from south London who later died in a police cell.

Lord Adebowale told The Independent newspaper: “The cells being used as places of safety is unacceptable. The police are perceived to be in a difficult position but frankly that’s not my concern.

“My job is to ensure that the police response is improved.”

He continued: “I haven’t approached this with deep sympathy for the police, of any other emergency service for that matter. I have approached this as a taxpayer who expects when they dial 999 to get an excellent response.”

Also on the panel are a number of independent experts and the Association of Chief Police Offcers (ACPO) lead for mental health.

The commission is expected to present its findings to the Met in February 2013. Its report will be made public.

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