A fellow activist contacted me on Friday 20th June at about 5.20pm to inform me that a black man had been walking in Colmore Row was stopped by The Police and handcuffed, being told he was being detained under section 136. They advised me that the triage service had turned up to assess him and there were four officers on the scene and they were concerned with the attitude of some of the Officers.
The concerns were communicated to the Commander who in turned sent out a Supervising Officer who truned up just after I arrived to observe.
Clearly four Officers were surrounding this man and they were all talking at this one immediately after the other, which could only go some distance in my view of aggravating him. However, the man was very calm throughout the whole episode.
Once having spoken to the Supervisor, he did allow me to speak to the man to advise him to cooperate so that no force was used, however, he felt it was an injustice as he stated that he was doing nothing and claimed that he is stopped every day by the Police.
However, the main concern for me also with this is that the lead from the NHS on the triage service that is there to assess this man was doing nothing whilst I was there apart from standing about.
Clearly, it is not the responsibility of the Police to talk to this man but the NHS technician, in my opinion as they are the health professional and they have a duty to perform.
Following my discussions with this man, he was clear he was not going into the ambulance despite a promise the handcuffs would be remove once he got on board, as he felt he was being victimised. I expressed my concern to him of forced being used and anyone getting hurt.
However, thankfully in the end although with some firmness, used by the Police he was frog marched with very minimal force into a Police Vehicle.
However, it was notable that the who attitude did change once the supervisor attended the scene and that despite the attitude of some of the Officers with w=hat I describe as loose and immature comments, which only seek to antoganise the man, he remained calm and we had good dialogue.
The main concern however, is the fact that on this occasion the the person responsible for the administration of this from the NHS just appeared to be doing nothing and leaving it up to the Police.
I had been involved with a previous person that was detained and their experience was totally different.
It is clear that we need to observe the actions of the Police and the NHS with section 136 detentions, especially in light of the delays with the Kingsley Burrell matter. I would encourage that when anyone observe incidents of this in public please take time to observe take pictures, note the date, time and location in order that we may look into this further.
We can only speculate as to whether the outcome would have been the same without intervention, however, clearly, it has identified issues that need attention.
We all have a responsibility to making our streets safer, however, we must also ensure that the vulnerable are not stigmatised or dehumanised in any way.
Mental Health in times of austerity in of increasing concern and the last thing people caught up in this trap need, is to be treated unjustly. There is some good work being done, however, there still appears to be an issue at times when this is being carried out and I will not apologise for highlighting these short comings, as some of the consequences can be tragic.
We need you to get involved and observe whats happening on our streets and in our communities, we must not bury our heads in the sand as the next one could be close to home.