This is the long-awaited second part of this post last month asking my readers what you would do as a search manager. Apologies for the delay – Real Life managed to get in the way.

So what did you do?

First of all, he’s done nothing wrong. The Police have a remit to preserve life and property and where they believe that someone may be placing themselves in danger and that that person may not be capable of understanding the risk that they are to themselves and others, then there are ways of intervening – the Mental Health act for example allows a person to be held against their will if they are a danger to themselves or others.

He has a right to do what he wants and to do so uninterrupted by the police – the Human Rights act grants him that. However, his girlfriend is understandably concerned. Is he attention seeking, just looking to make a fuss? Or is he truly trying to harm himself?

With the most recent discussion where John spoke to the misper, the guy was lucid and clear and was unwilling to reveal his location, but was adamant that he was happy, safe and comfortable where he was. In such circumstances, the police have a very difficult decision to make. He’s indicated that he’s going to self-harm, but is now saying that he’s comfortable and safe. They have to let him enjoy his freedom without prejudice or interruption, but also have a duty to intervene if his life is in danger, although technically he’s done nothing wrong.

John, fortunately, is a highly experienced police search manager. In his conversation with Gold command that evening, they agreed that it was best to downgrade the risk. Although Eric’s history indicated that he was a high-risk misper, the current circumstances, coupled with the fact that we would have to be accompanied by the burly members of the armed response team to ensure our safety (because of Eric’s record as a violent offender) meant that they could not justify spending all those resources and what was rapidly turning into a minor issue. Our search managers agreed, and with Gold command refusing to authorise a mobile phone location ping, there was little more we could do. So a difficult decision was taken – we went home.

This was a tough one – balancing the needs of a high-risk misper against the fact that we’re volunteers and with the time already 0100, we all had jobs to go to by 0900.

As it was, the correct decision we think – the misper was downgraded which meant that the police presence at his house wasn’t needed. As soon as they left, control received a call from Eric again – suggesting that he was close enough to see the house and as soon as the police left he called in to try and renew interest in himself. John was expecting this and he pointed out that the behaviour fell into a pattern of attention-seekers.

We went home. How did you do?

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