‘10th anniversary of Macpherson report show lessons have not been learnt’ community groups working with mental health service users say

The 10th anniversary of the publication of the Macpherson report has revealed a failure to learn important lessons from the Stephen Lawrence inquiry human rights campaigns group Black Mental Health UK says.

Concern remains amongst health professionals over the insensitive and often brutal treatment of black mental health patients who come in contact with the police, which they say this shows there is a long way to go to before racism is eliminated from within its ranks.

The deaths of black service users after they have been taken into custody is evidence zero tolerance to racism and improving accountability of the police are still a long way off.

The police force still not trained in how to spot and deal sensitively with someone in need of mental health care. People from African Caribbean communities are 50% more likely to be referred to mental health services via the police.

David Bennett is considered to be the Stephen Laurence of the mental health world, his death occurred just a few weeks before the Macpherson report. Still recommendation made in both the David Bennett Inquiry report of the Macphearson report have not been fully implemented

‘The Macpherson report, like the David Bennett report brought to light institutional racism withn the services.
It would be negligent not acknowledge the damaging impact institutional racism is having on people’s lives. We cannot look back in another ten years to find that has been no improvement. ‘ Matilda MacAttram, director of Black Mental Health UK said.

‘When you talk to black people, particularly black men there is no evidence that their experience is any more positive than ten years ago. There are individuals within the system who won’t accept responsibility of their bad behaviour and poor treatment of black people. Working in the mental health system and talking to our clients I can’t see them having anything positive to say about the police 10 years on from the publication of the Macpherson report,’ Alicia Spence director of services at the African Caribbean Community Iniative said.

‘We know of many cases of young black people, who have been abused and degraded whilst in police custody. Attempts have been made to deal with the systemic racism, but it has by no means gone far enough to address the hard core problems within the police force.

The recent headlines exposing BNP membership of police officers shows that there is still a lot of work to do,’ Pastor Desmond Hall, chair of Christians Together in Brent said.

‘The police are a main point of entry for black people using mental health services, but their way in treating this vulnerable group has not changed.

After all of the deaths in custody you would have thought that there would be some sort of mandatory mental health training for every officer. Ten years after the Macphearson report, the message that we get working with people on the ground is that their experience has not improved at all, in fact discrimination has got worse if anything,’ Rachel Barclay executive director of Two Way Street mental health service in Bristol said.

‘The police have a duty of care to everyone, that duty of care goes truant particularly when they come into contact with vulnerable people of colour. We must ask ourselves, why is this the case?’ Bernard Renwick, Roger Sylvester Justice Campaign said.

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