How to decolonise mental health services

David 'Rocky' Bennett
David ‘Rocky’ Bennett

source: openDemocracy
published: 5 April 2016

Before David ‘Rocky’ Bennett’s death in a psychiatric unit 18 years ago, he sent a letter to the nurse director, pointing out there were no black staff members. He wrote:

“There are over half a dozen black boys in this clinic. I don’t know if you have realised that there are no Africans on your staff at the moment”.

Bennett died while being held down by four staff members at a psychiatric unit after a violent altercation with another patient and a nurse. Looking at the circumstances around his untimely death, it’s clear his blackness was threatening to staff members. He had been using the mental health for at least a decade, yet his needs as a black Rastafarian were not being met.

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Seven deaths in West Midlands police custody in the last 12 years

Police Cell Victimssource: Express & Star
published: 20 February 2016

Seven people have died while in police custody across the West Midlands in the last 12 years, figures have revealed. They include five men and two women arrested on suspicion of crimes ranging from driving while unfit through drink or drugs to affray.

Among them was mother-of-four Sharmila Ullah who was being held at Bloxwich Police Station in July 2014 after being arrested for shoplifting.

A coroner concluded there had been some ‘individual failings’ in regards to observations while she was in custody but he was not satisfied they had contributed to her death.

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Kingsley Burrell police restraint death: West Midlands officers referred to CPS

Kingsley Burrell (new)
Kingsley Burrell

source: BBC News
published: 22 October 2015

A police watchdog has referred a complaint made by the family of a man who died while under restraint to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Kingsley Burrell, 29, was detained in March 2011 after West Midlands Police attended a disturbance in Birmingham. He later died from a cardiac arrest.

In May, an inquest ruled prolonged restraint and a failure to provide basic medical attention contributed to his death. Three officers are being investigated.

A statement from the Independent Police Complaints Commission said in 2013 it had found there was a case to answer for gross misconduct against three officers, on the grounds of honesty and integrity in the accounts they provided to investigators. A misconduct hearing is pending.

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