A police investigation will be frightening and confusing for most people, but those with a mental health condition face particular challenges.  For some, there will also be neurodivergent issues to manage. Unfortunately, our experience is that few police forces are well adjusted to ensure that both a fair investigation and a fair process follows, and only with specific support and focus will the issues arising from mental health be properly handled. 

One tranche of issues arises from the ability to fairly and fully participate in the investigation; their ability to be interviewed by the police; to collate and present evidence; to manage the uncertainty and delay; to communicate their account, whether of innocence, guilt or both.  A second tranche of issues arise in explaining the relevance of a mental health condition to the allegation; for example, manic behaviours, psychotic episodes or escapism from depression and low mood.  The examples are manifold and multi-various. Yet we routinely see the police failing to investigate or account for the mental health factors. A further tranche of issues arises in achieving a just disposal from a police investigation.  When might a caution or local resolution be appropriate?  Is a charge inevitable because a person could not clearly admit what had happened?  Can the charging matrix be fairly applied without the police appreciating? the likely disposal in court?  In respect of all of these matters, help is available. 

Intermediaries can be available, although the number of such instances are vanishingly few. Information, expertise and simply caring enough about these issues all need to come together if an investigation is to be fair and effective.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.