For many people identifying who is vulnerable is not always easy. So it is easy to understand that vulnerable adults do not always appear in need of protection. Innovative support systems such as uStep have helped many gain confidence and achieve greater independence and become integrated members of their local communities.
Yet those charged with protecting everyone in society, such as the police, often put vulnerable adults in a position of failure leaving them more at risk than before. At ubu everyone is delighted the Government is finally tackling this thorny issue head on and running a pilot scheme in ten areas of England posting mental health nurses in police stations and courts.
Their role will be to help identify people with mental health problems, including vulnerable adults, and offer support to them and guidance to the police in the best way to treat them.
It is both a relief that the problem has been recognised and a sign of progress that society is coming to terms with the fact that vulnerable adults are not always obvious but when in difficult situations become even more at risk.
For years ubu has advocated for vulnerable adults who have been inadvertently arrested through no fault of their own, sometimes as a result of ignorance on the part of the police. When this happens to such vulnerable people they have become frightened, distressed and panic as a consequence their behaviour becomes misunderstood. As it did with one gentleman ubu supported in Yorkshire and his fear lead him to become extremely aggressive, the police charged him following him being assaulted by a gang of men.
An unknown nurse will never replace a familiar face, but a trained professional will be able to recognise the situation, alert the police, suggest the best treatment and hopefully diffuse any tensions.
As we currently operate in the ten pilot locations I'm sure we will all be watching with great interest and support to see how the scheme works in practise, as it will support other cases similar to David’s that we mentioned above. Let’s hope this is a step forwards.