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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70513
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Rights of a disabled person with autism who is arrested for

Resolved Question:

Rights of a disabled person with autism who is arrested for a criminal offence, held in a Police station to be assessed by a qualified medical practioner and not just a police nurse, to be fit for interview. The CPS dismissed the case.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Which rights in particular?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The police said he was drunk, which he was no, he was held for 7hours without myself or an appropriate person being allowed to see him.I did know at the time but theyb told the duty solicitor he was drunk and set a time for him to be interviewed 7hours after his arrested.the Police did not want him to be examined due to the injuries caused by the Police. I informed themm over the phone that due to his history depression, severe anxiety and attempted suicide that he would have to be assessed.The police have stated that a police nurse who is not qualified in mental health ino comment interview ssues could deem him fit for interview,the duty solicitor at the time advised my son to respond with a no comment interview.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok.
I'm not sure what you were expecting but all that is fairly standard.
He was examined by an FME who would have recorded any injuries.
The fact that he is disabled does not mean he cannot be fit for interview.
The fact that you informed them of a history of a condition is a non issue. The issue is for the custody sargeant to assess and a person is asked specific questions about their history when booked in. If those questions were answered negatively then the issue falls away.
Probably the FME wasn't qualified under the Mental Health Act to assess whether a person is mentally ill. There might be a challenge in that but all that would mean is that you would have the basis of an argument to exclude the interview under S78 PACE or as an abuse of process. It wouldn't have any other impact. Since he made a no comment interview it is a non issue. I suppose you could argue that there shouldn't be an inference arising from the no comment interview as there wasn't an appropriate adult maybe. If that does go in your favour then you are far better off without one than with one.
Sorry if thats bad news but I have to give you truthful information.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

He did inform them that he had autism its on the risk assessment.the reason they said he was drunk is because he was unsteady on his feet.HE had injuries to both feet,a sprained ankle which the police nurse did not record but gave him pain killers. WE had take him to Hospital and have a record of this. the autism society say that vulnerable people have a right to be seen by the police medical practioner {doctor} not just a police nurse.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Autism would not give rise to the need for a mental health assessment. Its quite unlikely that depression would either. Suicide certainly would not. That would just mean he was put on suicide watch which does nothing except stop people in overnight getting a night's sleep.
The autism society are talking nonsense if they have given you that advice. I was a police station rep for years before I went to the Bar and if they are expecting the police to call a mental health doctor every time somebody comes into custody acclaiming autism then they are deluding themselves.
To be wholly honest, you are not describing any major breaches of PACE I'm afraid.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

They quote the 2007 mental health act applies to people with autism states that anyone carrying out an assessment of autism has appropriate experience training etc,Code of practice accepted by the association of Chief Police Officers

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I cannot agree that legislation gives rise to the need for a mental health doctor to assess everybody acclaiming autism.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

They are not stating a mental health doctor. They are saying the Police GP in the 1st instance and a mental health nurse, social worker etc if there is a need for further advice ie; cognative issues when interviewing.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes, that is unrealistic. An FME is possibly required. An appropriate adult may well be required. A mental health qualified nurse or doctor is just plain unrealistic. In the 10 years I did that job I don't think I ever saw the police call a mental health qualified doctor.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

They are not saying a mental Heath Doctor. The question is in the past it would have been a GP. Now the Met are using nurses with no training in mental health issues based in police stations to make assessments that would doctors GP would have made.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I don't agree with that at all. I am sorry but I have to give you truthful information and they are being unrealistic.
The rights under PACE are to be assessed. It doesn't set down that there must be a doctor or a nurse or otherwise specify.
The only point that could be taken maybe is that there should have been an appropriate adult but all that would mean is that there is an argument to exclude the interview.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry, just one more question. under 3F PACE C notes for guidance states that Custody Officers 'must be satisfied trained etc to carry out that task. If the police nurse is not trained in mental health issues how can she be competant

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Because she is just assessing whether he is fit for detention and interview and he clearly is.
The only point may have been that she should have recommended an appropriate adult
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