Policing & Mental Health, Coercion or Care? ACCI & BMH UK National Conference 2013

I am getting to report on an important conference I didn’t even attend. I made an early application but from then until now I heard nothing more, although I met with the organiser. I had been hoping to talk to her since I am managing a project on improving bme access to appropriate mental health services. I was therefore delighted when I received a telephone call from the very person. I arranged to meet her and went specially to Wolverhampton to do so.
I felt that I needed to mention some of things going on in Wolverhampton closely associated with the subject matter of the conference which was to be attended by a Minister and Shadow Minister, the Chair of the IPCC etc. I had applied for a place not only for myself but for Jenny Cooper who was permanently disabled by two police officers while arresting her in 2010. I told the organiser about Jenny, and about the man who was tasered while trying to stop a police officer manhandling his daughter who was in an advanced state of pregnancy. These and others we know about who have been harassed and harmed by police officers in Wolverhampton all happen to be black. Since tickets were priced at above £300 was it likely many could attend. Some were made available free of charge and apparently all were taken.
So who was the conference for and did it bring about an awareness of what was happening not least on the doorsteps of Molineux where the conference took place? Certainly Tippa Napthali was there from the Mikey Powell Campaign, a group which has supported many other families who have suffered deaths of their family members while in custody – places where they expected them to have been out of harm’s way.


This is an e-mail I received from a black woman in Wolverhampton in 27th July, 2012:
On Sunday May 27th, my mother had received a phone call from my brother’s partner, who was very distressed. In response, I attended my brother’s partners home address with my mother. In the phone call she had stated to my mother that Sergeant Jake Flannagan had attended her home address in response to a report of domestic abuse against her, which she informed the officer during his visit was untrue. She felt that Sergeant Flannagan was attempting to bully her into making some sort of statement, hence her distressed phone call and subsequent visit made by me and my mother.
When I arrived at her house, Sergeant Flannagan answered the door and I acknowledged him by saying hello. I made my way through the house to find my sister in law (brother’s partner) in the back garden.
I could see that she was visibly upset and when I asked her what was wrong she told me that Sergeant Flannagan would not leave until she made a statement even though she had been adamant that there was no complaint to be made.
After consoling her, we then walked back to the living room where Sergeant Flannagan was standing. She then asked the sergeant what the next step would be, to which he responded that she would now just need to sign a form to state that she had no complaint to make in regards to the allegation.
My sister in law then asked me if I had anywhere that I needed to go, as she clearly wanted me to stay at the property with her; and I responded that was fine and that I was available to stay.
Sergeant Flannagan then asked me who I was in which myself and my brothers partner responded that I was her sister-in-law, to which the officer responded that he did not want me present while she was making her statement. I replied that that was fine to which the officer then asked me my name. My response was that I did not wish to give any details, to which I cannot recall his exact words but as our conversation proceeded, I felt that Sergeant Flannagan was unnecessarily attempting to justify his need for information about me.
In the meantime, my mother, my brothers partner and a family friend whpwere present then walked into the kitchen adjacent to the living room. Sergeant Flannagan then approached the kitchen door and pulled it shut, enclosing us separately to the other people at the house.
His tone changed completely at this point, and I was quite taken aback when he turned to me and said; ‘I don’t want you at the house, come on, out!’
He then continued to state that he did not want me at the address as he did not know who I was. I responded that this was my family’s home and that I had every right to be here. I basically reminded him again that I was the tenants sister in law and she wanted me there. Sergeant Flannagan then began to push me towards the front door telling me to leave stating that he wanted me out of the house. I asked him if he could take his hands off me and told him a number of times to stop pushing me, to which he then grabbed my left arm by my wrist and upper arm and attempted to pull me towards the door.
Initially, I did not attempt to remove Sergeant Flannagan’s grip from my arm and agreed to leave of my own accord with my 10 month old niece, however, I requested again firmly and clearly that he remove his hands from my arms and refrain from pushing me. Sergeant Flannagan refused and continued to pull me towards the front door.
Eventually my pleas were heard by my mother, my sister in law and her friend who witnessed the remainder of the events. Each asked Sergeant what he was doing and requested him to let me go on a number of occasions. Sergeant Flannagan was also informed that I am 5 months pregnant multiple times.
I feel that the force used by Sergeant Flannagan and his actions were completely unnecessary.
As a result of the treatment I received from Sergeant Flannagan, I had been left with multiple bruises and abrasions to my body. I was also arrested and taken to Bloxwich police station under Sergeant Flannagans orders, but was released shortly after the same night with no charges.
My father was also tasered and arrested as a result of trying to protect me from the abusive treatment I was receiving from Sergeant Flannagan; again reminding him that I was 5 months pregnant. My father was later hospitalised at Walsall Manor Hospital due to his blood pressure becoming critically high.
As a result of the increasingly physical treatment I was subjected to, I was pushed and landed on my ten month old niece who was on the sofa. I am absolutely disgusted that somebody in a postion of authority and power had so little regard for the safety and wellbeing of an infant. Following from this, my niece was also hospitalised the next evening due to constantly throwing up. After examination and testing at New Cross Hospital, no evidence of infection or otherwise could be found. Doctors deemed my nieces symptoms were likely to be a result of the incident described.
I would like to pursue this to the full extent which the protection of the law provides. The behaviour of this individual was completely unnecessary, intimidating and ultimately has led to three members of my family being injured.
There is video footage which was taken on my mobile phone by my brother’s partner, however this is now in the custody of the police at Bilston Street Station, Wolverhampton. I also have taken photographs of the abrasions to my body as a result of the unnecessary arrest, and was seen by an independent doctor at Bloxwich Police Station.
There are further details which I have not included in this complaint as I have tried to make it as brief as possible; such as moments when Sergeant Flannagan had been lying on top of me and also had placed his arms in such a position that I could not breathe.
Please could you let me know if you have any advice or assitance available regarding this matter as it would be greatly appreciated by myself and my family.

The case was dropped after the court found that the evidence from the phone camera had been tampered with. Whether officers have been dealt with internally is not known but there has been no redress or the injuries. This is not the only case known to me and reported to the Police Commissioner in the West Midlands.
Jenny Cooper has been registered disabled and faces a serious back operation which risks cnfining her to a wheel chair. She has refused legal aid and so has been unable to make a claim for compensation. She and her family have had numerous contacts with police. Her son is in prison where he was recently assaulted after being released from a secure unit for mental illness, He is not mentally ill. Rather he was diagnosed with learning difficulties. Osne of Jenny’s daughter has been taken into custody on several occasions, twice from her bedroom witnessed by her children who were deeply traumatised by what they witnessed. On one occasion when she was pregnant. She was refused medication. The child subsequently died. The police acknowledged the seriousness of this information when they were told. Most recently Jenny’s younger son was arrested for mugging and stealing a mobile phone. He was physically abused in custody. The court found that he had been set up and the incident never happened. At the time he was taking exams and awaiting entrance to university. The judge asked the police why they were putting a young man’s future at risk. The main witness for the police, a known drugs dealer who described himself as a student to the court admitted to Jenny subsequently that he had been set up by the police to get at her.
So the Conference came and went. I hope it was successful. But will those in Wolverhampton who are suffering at the hands of an out of control group of officers be any wiser or safer because of it? Again I hope so. We shall see.

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