Anyone who questions whether this system of 'care in the community' works need only spend a Night Duty with the officers on a response relief. They don't blame anyone, they often just feel they're the wrong tool to use.
George comes into contact with those suffering from mental health problems on a fairly frequent basis. Take last night, he attended a call from someone stating that they are receiving 'disgusting' text messages. The controller stated that the caller was 'rambling' and 'not making much sense'. George told his probationer that he knew the address was an apartment complex where the Social Services placed patients who were being treated 'in the community' and told her to be alert.
Upon arrival they were let in to the address by Steven. Steven was in his mid forties, heavily built, about 6 foot tall and a skin head covered in tattoos. George made a quick scan of the room and his eyes were immediately drawn to a set of kitchen knives on the floor next to the TV. He made eye contact with his probationer, trying to draw her attention to the same. She got the message.
The conversation went something like:
"What's going on Steven?"
"Have you still got them on your phone Steven?"
"Deleted them. Didn't want to look at them. They get me angry"
"Okay … what do you want us to do?"
"Stop them sending me them texts"
"Who is it? Do you know who's sending them?"
"No ... I just told you …. I deleted them. Take my phone and catch them"
"Okay Steven but if we take your phone, there's no evidence on it"
"Catch them or I'll use my knives. I'll stab anyone coming through my door"
At this point, the mood changed from 'slightly concerned' to 'absolutely bricking' it. George looked at the probationer and using a Jedi mind trick urged her to get closer to the door. This didn't work. Steven then stood up and walked towards the TV (and the knives). George grabbed the probationer by the arm and pulled her towards the door. Steven stopped and looked at them.
"What are you doing?" he asked. "Leaving" replied George.
Steven began to throw things around his room as they dived out the door. "Leaving?" he shouted. "What are you going to do about my texts?". George muttered something about calling police again when he got another one, or calling into the police station then scuttled down the stairs followed by a torrent of abuse, not all of it directed at him or anyone in particular.
They got outside and made rapid updates to Control and had warning markers placed on the address. Then they hightailed it out of there and began the long process of liaising with Social Services and the Mental Health Practitioners to ensure a long term solution to Steven's problems
It is force policy to now wear ballistic vests at all times outside the police station. For once George was glad he adhered to force orders.