Recent studies have shown that almost half of the defendants in magistrates’ courts attending from custody have a diagnosable mental health condition or disorder. Similarly, one in five defendants attending on bail from the community were found to be mentally unwell.
In line with this, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council developed the Mental Health and Neurodevelopmental Checklist, with the hopes of improving the depth and quality of information provided to CPS prosecutors before they make charging and case management decisions.
CPS’s mental health guidelines require vulnerable individuals to be identified as early as possible, so that it can be assessed whether they are fit to plead. It also helps to ensure that suspects and defendants with mental-health conditions or disorders are accurately identified.
CPS also has to support vulnerable persons throughout the criminal justice process to ensure that they are fully and fairly taking part in their own proceedings, and can be diverted to mental health services when appropriate.
City of London Police independently volunteered to be one of five pilot forces to trial the checklist. During the arrest of an individual suspected to have committed common assault, the police force became the very first to officially use the resource.
Talking about it, City of London Police Commander Umer Khan said: “I am extremely proud that the City of London Police are the first in the country to have successfully used this excellent resource to help identify mental health issues at the early stages and ahead of the interview process.
“People’s mental health is very important to our force and this checklist helps us to secure the best outcomes for those with mental health-related concerns whilst obtaining positive outcomes for the victims.”