Police officers' views of their encounters with people with personality disorder



Publication Details

Martin, T. & Thomas, S. (2015). Police officers' views of their encounters with people with personality disorder. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 22 (2), 125-132.


In Australia, people experiencing personality disorder have featured little in policing studies and policy or mental health policy and legislation, and in the absence of specific guidance their behaviours represent an ongoing challenge for police. This paper presents police officers' accounts from a qualitative research project that explored police encounters with people experiencing mental illness. The officers singled out people with personality disorder and expressed frustration, anger, powerlessness and resignation with their referrals of this group to health services. Officers reported that emergency departments were reluctant to assess people with personality disorder and when they did assess them stated that the person did not meet criteria for admission to mental health services, or if admitted, they were quickly discharged. People with personality disorder were reported to take up considerable police resources. When police were told by mental health professionals that there was nothing they could do about people experiencing personality disorder, then the question from police was what was to be done with them. While pockets of collaborative practice exist between police and mental health services, much change is required to demonstrate that the needs of the person with personality disorder are being met.

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