Mental Health Nurses in Western Australia to Get “Police Powers”


Psychiatric nurses could be given the powers of special police constables within the next few months in Western Australia, reported the Herald Sun and other news media.

As part of an effort to build “mental health co-response teams,” Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan told media that mental health nurses would be given “limited police powers.” These powers could include, the Herald Sun reported, “the ability to stop and search, restrain and move on people and enter premises.”

“It’s a very easy thing to do and it’s a very important thing to do,” O’Callaghan said. “The police force of the future is not just about lots of blue shirts going around doing stuff, it’s a combination of people.”

New mental health co-response powers still going ahead in WA (WA Today, May 31, 2015)

WA nurses to get new police powers with frontline mental health teams (Herald Sun, May 31, 2015)


  1. Whilst I see the benefit in mental health clinicians being on “the beat” to teach police officers how to interact with people experiencing symptoms of a mental illness; Does this not only further the power differential between consumers and clinicians? How about looking at a role that can be played by people with a lived experience to better equip law enformcement with the tools they need to properly assist those they suspect have symptoms?

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  2. There is a little more going on with this than meets the eye. These changes were debated in parliament recently with the introduction of our new mental Health Act, ensuring that the consequences of the changes can be made to appear to be ‘unintended’. Mental health workers getting the powers of police? Police are more impressed with the powers of mental health workers to snatch anyone off the street they wish with fabricated evidence, and then have them subjected to punishment and torture based on that fabricated evidence. This new ‘loophole’ will allow some of the greatest abuses this state has ever seen, and the public will not become aware of this.

    I would also question the timing of this with a Coronial Inquiry into 5 suicides at one hospital. I assume the claim will be that powers to act in these instances were not available. Rubbish, with the previous powers held under the old Act, I could lock people up for being Muslims, for smoking a joint, or not cleaning their house to their mothers standards (or as in my case being drugged with benzos without my knowledge). With that sort of power, do they really need any more?

    Police have been rubbing their hands together waiting for this loophole to be passed.

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