A man, who had been held under the Mental Health Act, has died while being arrested by police. This tragic death focuses the urgent need for far greater mental health resources and a rethink of the role of policing people in the community with mental illnesses.
Greens MP and Police Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“It’s an impossible job we ask of police to be the all-purposes thin blue line that deals with so much of the mental health burden.
“We don’t yet know what happened in the few short moments before this man died, but we do know we can’t keep sending police armed with tasers, guns and capsicum spray as our first response to mental health concerns.
“There’s a tragic cycle repeating in NSW where people who are clearly mentally unwell and potentially a risk to themselves and others end up dead following police intervention.
“Repeating this cycle damages both police, often very junior police, and the community.
“The investigation into this death must look well beyond what happened on the day and consider the extent of police mental health training and the absence of frontline mental health services.
“If a mental health patient absconds from the RPA, then surely there should be a 24 hour mental health crisis team available to bring the patient back safely.
“For those in the community who want clear answers it is unacceptable that once again we will see police investigate police with only a limited oversight role for the State’s police integrity body.“ Mr Shoebridge said.