In this second post about my experiences of police brutality and mental health, I wish to discuss the nature of problems affecting diagnosed mental health victims when it comes to attempting to conventionally use police services.
If you’ve ever been a mental inpatient you are probably aware that the police’s jurisdiction does not extend to mental hospitals. There is no protection for incarcerated patients no matter how many times you contact police. Therefore you are forced to deal with crime inside a hospital environment on your own. This in itself is dangerous, especially when often it is the polices themselves who have removed you to the locked environment. I suppose, it could be argued that it makes sense not to want to seek help from an organisation that works on behalf of the secret prison system that is mental health lockup.
The problem I have found, is that once back in the community, attempting to build up your life, should you ever require the assistance of the police in a conventional way. To report a crime or anything else, you do not get standard service that a public user of their service might expect.
This dilemma is created by, despite diagnosed mental illness not (yet) being a criminal offence, it is recorded by the police and you do show on their system as being diagnosed mentally ill. When you call 999 or 101, caller display and police monitoring systems indicate immediately and you are flagged as a ‘mentally ill’ customer.
I first encountered the reality of this situation over a decade ago when, during a business dispute whereby some of my business’ equipment was illegally seized and I was attempting to recover it I was held hostage on someone else’s business premises with active threats of violence which I feared could result in murder. I felt I had no real alternative but to report the matter to the police, from a question of personal safety as much as anything else. Luckily, I had a mobile phone so I dialled 999 and reported the matter from within my locked environment.
After about 15 minutes the police turned up at the location. they entered the premises where the owner was actually in the room with me. The police entered, and despite me having given a lucid sane account of the crime I alleged, the police did nothing to the person I was reporting, but on entering the building put me up against the wall, inside the place where I’d been captive for about 90 minutes and started conducting a body search. I asked them exactly what they were doing as it was I who had contacted them and was the victim of a crime. The Asian officer, who I knew from the local Caldicot police (part of Gwent police), informed me that because I was mentally ill, this was standard procedure and he had to check me for concealed weapons which I obviously did not have. After conducting a thorough body search I asked him if he would now attend to the criminal matter at hand and that a) I wanted out of my hostage situation and if possible I wanted the recovery of my stolen computers and other business equipment that were being locked in a different part of the building. The police officer told me that I was trespassing and had to leave the premises without my equipment. I was quite shocked, but equally quite glad to be alive and no longer being held in a hostage situation. The police never followed up the matter at all, but I was very ill at ease and realised that I wouldn’t get conventional treatment from the police due to my mental health status. As a business you have to right off the occasional asset and possessions aren’t everything in this world. Health is a priority and preserving life is a necessary factor in living.
I tried my best not to ever contact them again but unfortunately many years later I had the misfortune of having to report a crime and felt that to make a 999 call was the only viable option.
My fiancée, Nicola, had a friend around our house for the evening. They had been enjoying themselves and having a few drinks whilst I was just minding my own business, ploughing away with my computer work…. running so many internet sites and social media takes a lot of dedicated effort! lol…
It came time for Nicola’s friend to go home. It was about midnight and she had booked a taxi. Nicola told me her friend was leaving and asked if I’d do the gentlemanly thing and escort her friend outside and to see her safely into the taxi. Of course, as chivalry demands I obliged and walked the lady outside. As she got into the taxi, a little drunk as she was, I Couldn’t believe my eyes when the taxi driver leant over her, strapped her seatbelt in and not realising that I was present, openly groped the passenger’s breast. I immediately protested and demanded to see the driver’s identity card. He showed me a ‘hackney carriage id’ with his photo on. I felt it strange that a local taxi in South Wales should have a London cabbie’s ID. The taxi sped off down the road before I could discuss matters further and sort the situation myself.
I rushed back inside and quickly explained to the missus what had happened. She was shocked and we both realised that the only people we could realistically call in this potential kidnap situation was the police on 999.
I reluctantly dialled ‘999’ and the operator speedily put me through to the police. As I was reporting the incident, I realised that I was speaking to a local police operator from her accent. the questioning seemed to be directed away from the incident and she seemed to be just gathering information on me. there was an obsession to get my details and not the details of the crime. It was like going through a standard call centre security check, like when you ring the bank. I suddenly realised that I had obviously flagged on their system as mentally ill and they were messing around. This, when Nicola’s friend’s life was in potential danger, made me angry. I hung up on the 999 call and immediately rang 999 again to try and get a better response from a different operator. I got put through to a police operator somewhere in the East Midlands if I remember correctly. I rushed through my incident report which was accepted well and she informed me that the matter was being dealt with and that the incident could expect a response.
After this 999 call ended, I quickly rang Nicola’s friends partner, who was waiting for her at home. I explained to him the situation and he was very worried, but luckily as we were talking, his drunken partner stumbled through the house door. Nicola and I breathed a sigh of relief and were just glad that the worst had not transpired in the incident. As we experienced relief we could hear a massive noise outside as vehicles started storming the neighbourhood. I realise it was the police arriving. Nicola went running outside to explain what had happened and that her friend was home safe.
I had my dressing gown on and was pondering about getting changed before I saw the police but I thought I’d better get outside and check that Nicola was OK.
This is where matters broke down and still to this day I cannot get my head around the actual lunacy that resulted. I have put in IPCC complaints etc about this and tried to pursue the matter but obviously it’s a waste of time dealing with that particular organisation.
I went through the front door and Nicola was about 25 metres away, surrounded by a group of yellow-vested police. She looked frightened and I was worried about what was happening. Stood on my front lawn I politely inquired of Nicola if she was Ok and all was OK. On hearing my voice, a second group of approximately 10-12 officers, saw me and in a military formation started rushing at me, as a group…. I raised my hands just to try and settle them. Perhaps they thought I was the reported criminal, and Nicola was the victim? This was not actually the case as the IPCC would have reported this to me when I entered my official complaint.
The police grabbed me. I offered no resistance at all, as obviously I had just dialled 999. I was thrown face down on the floor and handcuffed. The young PC, about 20 years old, who led the charge and had handcuffed me then proceeded to boot me in the back of the head and left his foot embedded in my neck, applying pressure. I couldn’t breathe at all and felt close to death. I was suffocating as I was face down in the mud with a boot in the back of my head / neck, obstructing my airways. I was in a stress position with my hands secured behind my back in cuffs. I started having an asthma attack after several minutes and somehow the officer’s heavy jackboot was removed from my neck. I was hyperventilating and just pleaded to see a doctor. He shouted at me that he was a doctor. As i re-caught my breath I was removed from the ground and escorted towards one of the waiting police vans. I asked them politely if they could get my inhaler from inside my home as I was having an asthma attack and needed it, especially anticipating I would be locked in the airtight, sealed back of a police van for a journey to wherever.
They refused to get an inhaler and were still surrounding Nicola in a military-style ring formation. I was concerned for my partner’s safety as I didn’t really want to leave her in the company of this particular section of police officers. You have no choice, however, and there was nothing I could do but quietly pray as the vehicle moved off. Cuffed, back of the wagon, not for the first time, hardly able to breathe. It is disturbing travelling in the back of a ‘meat wagon’ yet when you’ve been cuffed in the back of an ambulance the first time they introduced handcuffs to your life, travelling police-style isn’t as scary as people might imagine.
The van stopped and the doors were opened and I was grabbed out, yet the cuffs were not removed. I was at the back of Newport Central police station. I was escorted into the processing area. I thought I’d go straight to the custody desk and be able to get some sense out of the custody sergeant and at least be able to phone and check that Nicola was safe and well as that was my main concern. With a sexual predator being around my home, the last thing I need is to be wondering if the missus is home safe with doors securely locked. At Newport Central, however, nothing is very easy. There were two police in the van. One, the 20 year old male ‘doctor’ who had assaulted me. The other, one from Nicola’s surrounding ring, a woman officer, who I later established was the officer in charge of the whole ‘operation’ and was a beat officer from Chepstow. Never seen either before in my life. They stopped behind the closed door of the custody suite, just inside the entrance, one either side of me restraining my arms, even though I was cuffed behind my back. We stopped and I was held there for I’d estimate about 60-90 minutes. The bloke on my left was obviously bored and decided to relieve his boredom by twisting my thumbs on my left hand around, trying to dislocate them or break them, no doubt. After being the victim of his assault outside my home I was in no mood to verbalise anything with him, for obvious reasons. In a police situation the best thing to do is to remain calm. A police officer full of adrenaline is a dangerous thing. Any form of ‘dissent’ will be punished. His officer to my right was not torturing my thumbs nor was she aware of his little idea of ‘fascist police brutality’.
I got to the custody desk, asked to call my partner at home, was denied and moved straight to the holding cells. No charge, no comment, no offer of communication about what is going on, no offer of legal representation. No communication whatsoever. Luckily, another officer managed to release me from the rather restrictive cuffs at this stage and I was so glad to get into the back of the cell where I could start reworking my circulation. At the end of the day, as a professional DJ who requires his hands for work, there is nothing worse than handcuff wounds and finger / thumb injuries… My thumb has never become right since that day. It’s a real challenge, spinning vinyl, when you’ve been tortured by police officers on so many occasions, directly on the parts of the body you need most to earn a living.
Unfortunately they wouldn’t shut the cell door and give me any peace and kept it open as, after waiting so long to get into the place there was a crazy rush to get me out. I was moved on by a fresh police officer straight out of the nick and into a more comfortable cage in the back of another van. No communications again as to where we were heading, why we were heading there, what was going on, but you expect it off the police. I recognised this copper from a previous detention and he seems a little more settled than the rampaging lot who had kidnapped me earlier in the evening.
Eventually we turned up at the secure mental hospital ward, Beechwood, St. Cadoc’s Hospital. Luckily an Ok nurse, my mate Mick was the nurse in charge for the evening. He could see that the coppers had had a right go at me and luckily as they released me into his custody he let me just have a wander off in ‘freedom, around the St. Cadoc’s grounds and garden outside the ward as he knew full well I wouldn’t be seeing any outside or nature for quite some time.
I was of course to be ‘treated’ by the criminal mental patient forensic police-employed Newport Central psychiatrist Dr Darryl Watts (see – #EoT category) for the duration of my detainment. Mick gave me one last privilege before I was sectioned as he humanely allowed me to phone Nicola, who thankfully was at home, alone, with doors locked, and safe. I had a cigarette to calm and then faced a junior shrink to get sectioned. god knows what for… to this day and post court hearings (Mental Health Review Tribunal) I do not know how the hell calling 999 to report a directly witnessed sex crime can be mental illness, yet if the police psychiatrist who is treating you is a convicted sex offender then I suppose it makes some sort of sense (as twisted as mental health logic goes).
I think that as much as I hate the police state that I believe one has to accept that it is a reality. With the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) being so useless, it is important for people to document crimes by the police publicly. At the end of the day, if the outright murders of Brazilian tourist, Jean Charles de Menezes, and newsagent, Ian Tomlinson, go completely unpunished then what hope is there for other police victims in the UK? History teaches us about the rise of Nazi Germany post-1933 and what resulted in that. The scariest thing for me was that one of the first groups of people Hitler exterminated as war broke out, were the mental patients. i think that they paved the way for the gypsies and jews and slavs etc that followed. Obviously modern psychiatry was born directly out of concentration camp science. We live in a repetition of history and early 21st century Britain is in danger of being remembered in the same way as 1930s Germany.
I’ve got plenty more episodes of this blog to release, equally traumatic, if not more so, and while ‘freedom’ allows I shall continue to fight for the truth and justice and the end of tyranny and evil in mental health and psychiatry.
to be continued…
Ps. they didn’t have an asthma pump in the police station or hospital so I had to wait for my partner to arrange visiting times and bring one in for me at which point it was confiscated as it hadn’t been prescribed by the psychiatrist in charge.
For Other Episodes click links below