Delhi Police is working to form a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to deal with mental health patients found unattended or indulging in petty crimes.
Police chief Amulya Patnaik has made a three-member panel under the supervision of Special Commissioner of Police Sandeep Goel and joint CPs Sagarpreet Hooda and Rajesh Khurana, to prepare a manual for dealing with such patients in a “proactive and responsible” manner by personnel.
“The idea is to give such patients special treatment so they can be handed over to their families afterwards,” said a police officer. Sources told The Indian Express that the three officers will seek help from the public prosecutor and doctors of IHBAS (Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences) to prepare the final draft of the SOP.
According to police sources, personnel will be entrusted with identifying or spotting such people roaming unattended, and admitting them to hospitals recognised by IHBAS. The panel is also focusing on giving the responsibility to police officers till the patient recovers, and of reaching out to his family. “If any such patient is homeless or the officers fail to reach his family, he can be admitted to government-run shelter homes,” said a police officer.
IHBAS director Nimesh Desai told The Indian Express that the manual will cover both kinds of patients — homeless as well as those staying with families: “Sometimes, families face a lot of problems while dealing with such persons. We have requested Delhi Police to make it in Hindi as well, so that lower-rank officers can understand it properly.”
Sources said that as of now, no SOP or manual exists to deal with such patients. As per the normal procedure, officers usually admit such persons to the hospital, following questioning or counselling by senior officers.
In many cases, it was found that after admitting the person to the hospital, no effort is made to follow up on their condition or trace their family.
According to an officer, police recently came across a woman loitering outside a union minister’s residence in Lutyens’ Delhi.
The woman, who kept saying she will marry the PM and her daughter will marry the Congress president, was found to be mentally unfit. She was admitted to a hospital and police discovered she often came to Delhi from Rajasthan. From her purse, a contact number was discovered, which led police to her family.
However, such cases are an exception. “Recently, a man was found lying on the road on a VIP route. He was taken to the hospital, but his family remains untraceable,” said an officer.
An SHO expressed apprehensions about the SOP, saying such persons occasionally behave violently. “If doctors certify the person is fit, we should not be made responsible for dropping them home. Maybe other government or welfare officers can drop them,” said the SHO.
Sources said that once the final draft is cleared by Patnaik, SHOs will be briefed accordingly. An officer said the SOP will be formulated, keeping the Mental Health Care Act, 2017, in mind.