Police & Mentally Ill

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Francesca Allan
Police & Mentally Ill

Recent report from the Vancouver Police Department here:  http://vancouver.ca/police/assets/pdf/reports-policies/mental-health-crisis.pdf

I haven't read the whole thing yet but a couple of things jumped out at me:

(1) There clearly is an increase in violent interactions;

(2) They are calling for 300 more in-patient beds;

(3) Violence against the mentally ill is at least 10X that of against the general population.

A few comments:

(1) There are lots of studies indicating that the mentally ill are not, in fact, more violent than the norm. I have never bought this, though. The thing is though that we're talking about a correlation, not necessarily causation. There are lots of triggers that go along with mental illness such as poverty, living in the inner city, drug use, hopelessness, unemployment, loneliness, etc.

(2) It's not clear to me who they want occupying these 300 new beds. Are we talking about people convicted of violent crime? Or are we talking about the mentally ill merely thought to be potentially violent? Psychiatrists have no special ability to predict violence; they can't beat a coin toss. And incarcerating people on the basis that they may commit a crime puts society on very, very thin ice.

(3) People have often said that the mentally ill aren't violent and quote the statistic that they are more likely to be victims than perpetrators. This has always struck me as kind of a lame defence because it is true for the entire population, not just the mentally ill. This report, however, is the first time I've seen the authorities go as far as to say they are way, way more likely to be victims. The violence statistics, of course, do not include the legal assault (forced drugging and electroshock) that we suffer at the hands of psychiatry.

What do you guys think? Have any of you seen this report?