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Cops need ‘urgent’ mental health training

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A report into the NSW Police Force’s critical incident investigations recommends urgent training for officers so they can better respond and help those experiencing a mental health crisis. Picture: Toby Zerna

A report into the NSW Police Force’s critical incident investigations recommends urgent training for officers so they can better respond and help those experiencing a mental health crisis.

The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) report, released on Tuesday, covers five years of independent monitoring of the force’s critical incident investigations.

The investigations are launched whenever there is a serious injury or death in an incident involving a police officer, such as a police shooting or use of force on a suspect in custody.

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Police critical incidents occur when someone involved with police is seriously injured or killed. Picture: Toby Zerna

The report used 17 incidents as a case study, all of which occurred since July 2017.

The report made seven recommendations and found a “substantial” number of those injured or killed in critical incidents were people experiencing a mental health episode.

LECC chief commissioner, the Hon. Peter Johnson SC, said the report highlights the need for better training for police.

“Sometimes a critical incident investigation shows there are problems with police policies or practices,” Mr Johnson said.

“Changes to such practices should not be put on hold until the end of coronial or criminal proceedings.

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The LECC report found a ‘substantial’ number of those injured or killed in critical incidents were people experiencing a mental health episode.

“The Commission supports expanding the Police Ambulance Clinician Early Response Program.

“This award-winning program gets mental health clinicians working alongside police when responding to people in mental health crisis.”

The other recommendations include getting information and reports out faster and requiring all Region Commands to respond to all recommendations made in critical incident reports.

The LECC will monitor the implementation of the recommendations by NSW Police.