Research Output
Law enforcement and mental health: The missing middle
  Commonly, in the course of their duties, the police will come into contact with people who have a lived experience of mental illness. It is acknowledged that these contacts can and do happen for a wide variety of reasons and in a broad range of circumstances. Increasingly, police have found that they are responding to call outs and situations involving people experiencing distress or mental health symptoms. While there are ongoing tensions among the police, and community members, about whether this should even considered ‘police work’ or not, the reality of this situation has required police, health and social welfare services to develop both local and organisation-level partnerships to help articulate and delineate roles, functions and professional boundaries. This chapter will consider the development and function of these partnerships as they relate to responding to mental health-related situations. We will argue that current partnerships are failing to meet the needs of the ‘missing middle’; this group represent a significant proportion of the population who have mental health-related needs but do not meet the threshold for admission to public mental health services, and for whom other community-based care and support are insufficient. We will exemplify these limitations by focussing on mental health presentations to Emergency Departments and look to pockets of innovation internationally that have sought to address what represents a significant unmet need.

  • Date:

    01 January 2022

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Thomas, S., White, C., Dougall, N., & Heyman, I. (2022). Law enforcement and mental health: The missing middle. In I. Bartkowiak-Théron, J. Clover, D. Martin, R. Southby, & N. Crofts (Eds.), Law enforcement and public health: Partners for Community Safety and Wellbeing (111-123). New York: Springer



missing middle; mental distress, emergency department, mental health, partnerships

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