Police officers had to use their tasers twice last year to protect people from self-harm, it has emerged as questions are raised over whether islanders in mental health “crisis” are receiving adequate care.
The figures emerged as part of an Annual Report by the Jersey Police Complaints Authority’s (JPCA) – an independent Police watchdog - who receive monthly updates regarding the Police’s use of tasers and firearms.
In their report for 2019, the watchdog notes that tasers have only been used three times since their introduction to the Force - once in 2017 and twice in 2018 - with "no complaints". Police later confirmed to Express that the two uses last year were to protect individuals from self-harm.
Pictured: Police watchdog confirmed that both uses of the taser last year were fully justified.
The news comes off the back of a damning report which laid bare Jersey’s mental health “crisis”, telling of instances where some islanders suffering from poor mental health were being locked in police cells rather than being tended to in a specialised facility.
In their contribution to the report, Police said that, despite not having specific training, they were being asked to attend increasing numbers of mental health, suicide and self-harm incidents - with 638 in 2017 alone.
Members of the force therefore made the case for the following steps to more adequately resource mental health in Jersey from their point of view:
Pictured: The Scrutiny report told of instances where islanders with severe mental health issues were held in Police cells due to a lack of facilities.
They also noted the withdrawal of the 2015 Community Triage scheme extension which was abandoned “at very short notice… due to staffing capacity” despite “an overwhelming need” being identified for such a scheme.
Coming to a conclusion, the Police’s Scrutiny response says that in Jersey, “there appears to be a reluctance to develop services to adequately meet the needs of those who need it most – the community. We maintain that police cells should only be used for those suffering from mental health crisis in the most exceptional of circumstances.”
Their sentiments were echoed by the Home Affairs Minister, Constable Len Norman, who this week told States Members of how the Force had been stretched by responding to mental health incidents.
Pictured: Police have detailed the number of mental health related incidents they've had to respond to in the last few years.
Responding to a question from Deputy Kevin Pamplin, who was on the Scrutiny Panel responsible for the mental health review, the Home Affairs Minister said: “It’s one of the frustrations of the Police force that they are spending far too long dealing with things that perhaps they shouldn’t be doing and perhaps they’re not totally qualified to do.
"They are dealing with people who are in crisis, where there is a lack of options of how effectively to manage these individuals.
"Dealing with people who are suffering from these problems is now part of policing but the lack of options available to the Police is really causing them some concern."
Pictured: Home Affairs Minister, Constable Len Norman.
Commenting on solutions such as "community triage, listening lounges and a member of the mental health team sitting in the combined control room", the Minister added: "These things need to be developed, they need to be achieved for the benefit of the individuals who are suffering these problems, but also for the Police themselves who are dealing with things that they really should not be."
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