Centre criticises police over arrest

A mental health centre has called for police to draw up procedures
for investigating allegations made against social care staff after
its manager was locked in a cell for three hours.

The Wolverhampton-based African Caribbean Community Initiative is
preparing an official complaint about the police investigation into
claims made by a client with a history of false allegations against

Two uniformed officers visited the centre last week and threatened
to handcuff service manager Alicia Spence unless she agreed to be
taken to a police station immediately.

Spence was then searched and locked in a cell before being

The client had falsely accused her two months earlier of stealing
cash, 20 petticoats, underwear and dressmaking material.

“I fully support the police’s decision to investigate the complaint
and to question me,” said Spence.

“But the way it was handled was my worst nightmare as a black woman
and as a professional. I was taken away in tears by uniformed
police officers in front of the users of the centre and then driven
away in the back of a police car.”

Staff at the centre, which has an NHS Beacon award and a history of
co-operating with the police, said they explained that the client
had an acute mental illness but that the officers refused to
telephone the client’s consultant psychiatrist for advice.

“The officers said they would call for reinforcements if I refused
to go with them even though I offered to visit the police station
later that day. If we had been understaffed it would have been
unsafe for me to leave,” said Spence.

She said the police should have procedures for responding to
allegations in similar circumstances. These should include asking
staff to voluntarily visit a police station at a suitable

West Midlands Police said it did not have specific procedures for
investigating allegations by people with a mental illness against
professional staff. Its professional standards department would
investigate any complaints.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.