This afternoon I went to a meeting at the main police station in town. The last time I went there I was a spotty teenager required to produce his driving licence as I hadn't had it on me when stopped by the police. That was over thirty years ago. The place hadn't changed, except for the bullet-proof glass at reception.
One of my patients has been causing a nuisance for quite some time and the police have been involved on many occasions. She has an emotionally unstable personality disorder, and when under stress she acts rather like a toddler with a tantrum and does bizarre things. It's not her fault, poor thing - she had a difficult childhood and failed to learn the normal coping mechanisms for stress. But her bizarre actions alarm and upset people, and can confuse police officers who tend to bring her back to the station under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
The meeting was helpful, I thought. As well as the GP there was her Community Psychiatric Nurse, someone from the Psychiatric Crisis Team, someone from Housing and more police officers than you could shake a truncheon at. The health workers were able to explain that she does not have a mental illness, and pointed out that she seems to respond to being set firm boundaries. Various aspects and options were discussed. The police were keen to learn and are going to alter their strategy for dealing with her accordingly. I learned something about how they deal with problems and the legal framework within which they operate. Above all I was impressed at their concern for her, and their wish to avoid getting her entangled with the criminal justice system except as a last resort.
As a middle class professional I am of course on the side of the police. But I was pleased by the evidence from our meeting today that we have a good bunch of coppers here in Urbs Beata.