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Having the right to make use of an advocate

Cindy7007Cindy7007 Member Posts: 28 Connected
Hello,

Has anyone come across a situation whereby the Police have refused to allow a victim of crime, with poor mental health, the use of a non legal advocate. If so, can you please share with me how it was dealt with and the outcome.  I am going through this at the moment.

According to the Mental Health Act, if a person suffers with Depression or Bi-polar (amongst other issues) then they are deemed to be vulnerable and in need of protection.  Some issues of mental health do not come into the same category of (vulnerability) as the cause and effect are questioned. 

My issues are that under the Policing and Crime Act 2017 PACE, the Police are to protect the vulnerable and do whatever they can within their power and whatever is reasonable to expect, give every person the opportunity to be heard.  The Equalities Act covers for every person to have the same rights as a person without their medical conditions would have without hinderance or unnecessary actions by others to prevent such rights.  (OBVIOUS PARAPHRASING ABOVE)  

A female victim of repeated crime I am supporting at the moment does have Mental capacity but suffers with severe anxiety, PTSD, agoraphobia and she is recognised as an impulsive self harmer.  The attending Police officers were made aware by the lady herself that she suffers with mental illness.  The latest incident was a very violent attack on her property and attempts were made to enter her home with 3 children living there. As you would expect the victim was distraught and she was in fear and very anxious.  The Police still insisted on taking her statement within 30  minutes of the attack and made no attempt to call back at a later date to check that everything she needed to mention had been put into her statement.  (Luckily the following day she and I very calmly noted everything that she could recall from the night before). This lady asked that the Police please deal directly with me as she cannot get her head around everything. The Police refused as I was not the victim.  I emailed superior officers and was pushed back at every turn.  The majority of times the Police tried to make contact with her was at 7am when she was being woken from her sleep and then they went about trying to discuss things with her. 

I felt very aggrieved on her behalf, the Police were placing her at a distinct disadvantage and they knew this.  I followed through on the  victim's instructions at every stage and always verified the contents of anything I would be sending out in her name.  
This has been going on since July and it is only recently that a request was made to view this lady's statement by her, only to find a huge chunk of information was missing from her statement, to the point it didn't actually make sense.  Still the officer in charge was happy to forward it to the Court along with other witness statements, that it  also turns out have important facts missing from them. 

It is only very recently when I wrote to the Police and very clearly stated that they were not acting in accordance with the law and following procedures set down by different Acts.  I also did state that if they continue to deny the victim her right to use an advocate then she would take legal action against the Police. THEN the Police finally allowed me to be a part of the loop and to some degree only, act as an advocate.  (Bearing in mind the Police feel they have now finished with the matter and it rests in the hands of the Courts) 

I know this may appear to be a bit of a rant but, I know from working alongside this lady for some considerable time that she needs assistance to be able to accomplish many things.  Her usual way of dealing with matters is to walk away, do nothing about anything, as she can't see the point, then of course the fear is she slips back into a deep depression or self harms as she can't see a light at the end of the tunnel.     

WHY IS IT THAT THE LAW OF THIS LAND CAN IGNORE THE BITS OF LAW IT SUITS THEM TO.  NOT TREAT EVERYONE WITH THE SAME AMOUNT OF DIGNITY AND RIGHTS AND GIVE EVERY PERSON THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD, (BY WHATEVER MEANS NEEDED) AND TRY TO LISTEN TO WHAT IS BEING SAID???  

If OFFICIALS could do what they profess they already do, life would be a whole lot simpler for those amongst us that struggle to be heard, or find their words are being treated as less valuable than others.

Cindy

    


Replies

  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 1,638 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Cindy7007 In exactly what legal context do you act for the day concerned? or did I just miss that bit? It seems quite a complex situation and maybe or maybe not someone on this forum could help.
  • Cindy7007Cindy7007 Member Posts: 28 Connected
    HI @woodbine

    I don't act in a legal capacity but I have been an advocate for this lady for housing issues,  benefits and the Police.  Obviously a criminal with Mental Health issues can have everything they are entitled to, those guidelines are followed correctly. This lady is the victim of repeat criminal actions and her anxiety prevents her from dealing with stressful situations and yet the Police denied her the right to use a non legal advocate.  Everyone is entitled to use a non legal and/or a legal spokesperson if they feel the need to have the use of. 

    The Police seem to have created unnecessary obstacles and have exacerbated her mental health by not acknowledging her need and her right to use an advocate. They have insisted on dealing with her knowing it is an easier route for them to follow as this lady won't question things nor remember a lot of what she needs to be asking or saying. 

    I personally feel it is a lack of performing their duty as a Public authority that could have potentially allowed the offenders to commit further crimes against her with a mere slap on the wrist. 

    I am in the process of corresponding with the CPS to postpone a Court hearing date to allow an investigation to be carried out against the Police.  I do have some legal background before I went into counselling. 

    Someone needs to stand up and speak for the "underdog", "ignored", "non validated" individuals in our society.

    I was reaching out for anyone who has found themselves or someone they know, being denied the right to use a advocate by the Police. 

    Best wishes
    Cindy
  • chiariedschiarieds Community champion Posts: 5,286 Disability Gamechanger
    edited November 22
    Hi @Cindy7007 - I have been trying to look into this, & am very surprised as to what has occurred. The person should have been asked by the police if she would be happy for her details to be passed on to an organisation such as Victim Support. She should also have been left written information with explanations as to how to get  support, which might include finding someone to speak for her. Please see: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/crime-info/reporting-crime
    Perhaps if such recommended support organisations were not apparently used, then this might have been why it was difficult for you to be seen as her advocate instead.
    I'm not trying to minimise this person's mental health issues in the slightest, but I can understand the police wanting to take an initial statement from her quickly after this last incident, as I'm sure they would have done with anybody. Anyone would be understandably distraught after such an incident, whether they had mental/physical health problems or none, which the above mentioned organisations should be well-versed in dealing with. Perhaps it is not too late for her to contact a charity such as Victim Support: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/
    With apologies for not answering your question, but it's perhaps likely this person may need a lot of ongoing advice & support from someone with expertise with victims of crime.
    BTW we're all on the same side, so no need to use capital letters, which is deemed as shouting at us, thank you.
  • Cindy7007Cindy7007 Member Posts: 28 Connected
    Hi @chiarieds

    After both crimes occurred she was asked if she would like to use the services of Victim Support, she said yes both times and it was ticked on the crime log also.  Unfortunately, the first incident was February and then July and I appreciate  further limits are placed on services in the present climate.  To date she has not received one phone call offering support.

    She has never been given any written information about what she could expect or how she could access services or any reference to using an advocate. 

    I don't believe the Police were aware if Victim Support made contact or not, I doubt very much that had anything to do with the lack of acknowledging her right to have someone to speak on her behalf.

    I do understand and appreciate the need to take statements whilst everything is fresh. I don't understand why no consideration appeared to have been given by the Police to possibly do a follow up in the matter. There are many instances for victims of crimes whereby there is not the added pressure of having to give a full statement immediately.  In fact the bear bones of the incident can be sufficient until a follow up call is made.  I know this as I work with victims of serious crimes.   

    I will look through all of your suggested sites to glean what further information, that could and should be helpful,  thank you.

    Whilst I was suggesting being a non legal advocate, as I no longer practice law, the Police don't have the right to pick and choose who they will or won't allow to speak for another person.  This lady has built a good relationship with me over many months and feels comfortable opening up to me and she trusts me.  That is why she asks for my help.  I don't for a moment profess to have all the answers or all the expertise for every avenue that may present itself in my life. 

    I have however gained experience and expertise during the many years I worked within a legal environment.  I now choose to work on a counselling platform  and have done for the last 18 years.  I have worked within Victim Support amongst many other organisations over the years and I still do offer my time.  I appreciate the great support and knowledge to be gained if people are offered the service and also take it up.

    Apologies for the use of capitals, that was merely me displaying my annoyance, had I have had an embolden button to use I would have used that instead, I was merely emphasising the words I was using.  The contents were clearly not aimed at any aspect of Scope or its members though and I, for one wouldn't take the use of capitals as though I was being shouted at.  Whilst we are all on the same side, we are not all the same person.

    Best wishes
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