Open letter — The Policing Bill and Mental Health

Dear Editor,

We are writing to you as mental health professionals to express our grave concern that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will have a profound negative impact on young people’s mental health with unforeseen consequences, including an escalation in ‘criminal’ behaviour.

We cannot think of better measures to disempower and socially isolate young people who are already suffering the devastating mental health consequences of disrupted education and prohibited social contact imposed by the pandemic. This happens at a time when the government claims to be prioritising children’s mental health and wellbeing. For example, government guidance states that “involving students in decisions that impact on them can benefit their mental health and wellbeing by helping them to feel part of the school, college and wider community and to have some control over their lives.”

We completely agree. Engaging in nonviolent protest is a democratic right that is part of such involvement, and restricting it in the manner envisaged in this bill will further erode young people’s trust in politicians, and their belief that their voices are heard, respected and matter.

A growing body of research shows that children and young people’s mental wellbeing is already detrimentally impacted by adult failures to address the climate and ecological emergency. A recent survey of 10,000 16-25-year-olds from both the Global South and North found that almost 6 out of 10 were very or extremely worried about climate change and that these anxieties correlated with perceived inadequate government response and associated feelings of betrayal. At the same time there is increasing evidence that youth engagement in activism is one antidote to despair, and that it increases children’s positive skills and capacities. 

During the recent COP26 meeting in Glasgow, COP President Alok Sharma noted the fear and anxiety that young people, including his own children, feel about the future of the planet, and went on to compliment them for their “passion and commitment […] to climate action.” He argued that “the actions and scrutiny of young people are key to us keeping 1.5 alive and creating a net-zero future.” Unfortunately, the end result of the Glasgow meeting is that “the pulse of 1.5 is weak”, to quote Mr Sharma again. Even if all COP26 pledges are met, the planet is on track to warm by 2.4℃. 

Yet it is at this terrifying moment that the Government chooses to introduce new draconian legislation that will criminalise young activists engaging in nonviolent protest. Indeed the legislation appears in many parts to be specifically designed to entrap activists who are engaging in demonstrations that are essential for a healthy democracy.

For example, should young activists choose to engage in a march down a local high street, shouting and singing, as is customary during many school climate actions and Black Lives Matter protests, and if just two people are deemed to be seriously annoyed by this behaviour, those young people could be committing a criminal offence. If they fail to stop the disruption, perhaps choosing to link arms, or simply sit down in the road, they may be liable to 51 weeks in prison. And if they attend just two protests in a five year period that could have caused such serious disruption they may be subject to protest banning orders which mean that the police can monitor where they live, restrict who they meet, where and when they go out and their use of the internet. Meanwhile the new Stop and Search powers mean that police can arbitrarily stop any young person and search them on the basis that they might be carrying a banner, badges, leaflets to support a ‘banned protest, and we know from previous experience who is most likely to be targeted: black and ethnic minority youth who have already been disproportionality arrested and are more vulnerable than others to mental health problems, largely because of inequity and social injustice. 

One result of this legislation, if passed, will be that young people face a choice between being intimidated into inaction and isolation, or possibly criminalised if they choose to act. Some may deliberately choose to escalate their actions to be more disruptive and possibly violent, given the severe consequences for even minor nonviolent activity. Whichever choice they make it will have profound consequences for their mental well being and the wellbeing of the wider community.

This is why as mental health professionals we feel obliged to condemn this bill and add our voices to the increasing number of individuals, professional bodies and organisations who have spoken out against it including, health and social care workers, legal academicsformer police chiefs and numerous others.

Protecting young people’s mental health is our paramount duty. Taking action for and with them to address the planetary crisis is equally important. We ask our political representatives to recognise these concerns and oppose this dangerous Bill.

Yours sincerely,


Dr Isaac O. AkandeClinical Psychologist
Hon Professor Dr Geraldine AkermanPrincipal Psychologist
Mustafa AlachkarConsultant psychiatrist, NHS
Dr Ahmad AllamPsychiatry Trainee at NHS Scotland
Jennifer AllenLecturer
Alison AlwayEducational Psychologist
Carlos AmarteyTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Ms Annie BirdTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Henry AshcroftPsychiatrist
Dr Kara BagnallClinical Psychologist
Richard Bagnall-OakeleyIntegrative Child, Adolescent & Adult Psychotherapist (UKCP Reg.)
Dr Cate BaileyConsultant Psychiatrist
Vikki BakerConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Lewis BakerTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Ruth BaldwinOperational Director
Dr Jon BarnesConsultant Psychiatrist
Dr Nick BarnesSpecialty Doctor in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Romi BarrettTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Samantha BartonAssistant Psychologist
Dr J Isabel BattyePrincipal Clinical Psychologist
Dr Martin BillingtonGP
Lesley BlackGP
Charley BlackwellTrainee Clinical Psychologist, Leeds
Jessica BlumsomTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Christelle BlundenGP
Morag BorszczCounsellor/ Psychotherapist
Dr Hattie Bowden-HowlClinical Psychologist, NHS
Dr BoydPsychologist
Dr Andy BrackettClinical Psychologist, CAMHS, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust
L M Brady MScTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Stuart BrethertonHousing Support Worker
Joanna BrettTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Emma BrooksTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Juliette BrownConsultant Psychiatrist, East London
Dr Sarah BrownClinical Psychologist
Dr Nicholas BrowneGP
Roxy BuglerSchool Counsellor at Tufnell Park Primary School
Dr Eleanor BullHealth Psychologist
S. BundyEducational Psychologist
Hannah BurtonPsychological Therapist
Sophie CadwganCBT therapist IAPT Gloucestershire Health and Care trust
Lizzie CambrayRegistered Counselling Psychologist
Holly CameronTrainee clinical psychologist, University of Southampton
Dr. Kelly CamilleriClinical psychologist
Imogen CampbellTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Hannah CamplingCT3 Psychiatrist
Thomas CarterTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Anna Chalmers-BrownClinical Psychologist
Dr Lucia ChaplinPsychiatrist
Dr Rebecca ChaseyClinical Psychologist
Dr H ChowClinical Psychologist
James ClanceyPsychotherapist
Isabel ClarkeConsultant Clinical Psychologist.
Dr Katy Woodward CoatesConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Sarah-Jane CockburnRMN and Trainee Clinical Psychologist, University of Southampton
Amanda ColeConsultant Psychologist and Psychotherapist
PCH ColleyPsychotherapist
Dr Eleanor CookeCT3 Psychiatry, UCLH
Audrey CooperPsychotherapist
Mallory Corkum MSWTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Paula Corredor LopezConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Dr Phil Cox (PsychD)Psychologist/Psychotherapist
Dr Michael CreedNHS Psychiatrist
Dr Sue CrimliskConsultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Dr Sarah CrossClinical Psychologist
Dr Amelia CussansPsychiatry trainee
Dr Jen Daffin, Community Clinical PsychologistTrauma Informed Practice Lead
Dr Anne DarcyClinical Psychologist
Dr Andrew DaveyGP
Dr Virginia DaviesConsultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, Whittington Hospital, London
Francesca DempseyCBT Therapist
James Deutsch, MD, PhD, FRCPCAssistant Professor, Div. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Toronto
Fabricio Donizete da CostaPsychiatrist & Psychoanalyst in Public Health Centres in Campinas, Brazil
Louise DornanPsychologist in Clinical Training
Christa DrennanPsychotherapist
Greg DringClinical Psychologist
Bernadka DubickaHonorary Professor University of Manchester
Dr Erica EassomClinical Psychologist
Dr Katrin EdelmanConsultant Psychiatrist
Peter EdwardsConsultant Psychiatrist
Stephanie ElliottSenior mental Health Nurse
Mary Lynne EllisAnalytical Psychotherapist, Perspectives Psychotherapy
Dr Els van OoijenPsychotherapist
Dr Liam EmblissJunior doctor in psychiatry
Dr Abi EnlanderClinical Psychologist
Paolo Enockyouth worker, psychologist
Dr Tracy EptonLecturer in Health Psychology
Jack ErasmusTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Jon EtteyPrincipal Clinical Psychologist
Prof. Chris EvansHonorary/Visiting Professor, University of Roehampton & UDLA, Quito, Ecuador
Julia FaulconbridgeConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Lorena FavaPsychotherapist
Candida FernandesTrainee clinical psychologist
Dr Rachel ForrestEducational psychologist
Nadine FoxTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Alex Fradera CPsycholTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Leah FrancisTrainee Clinical Psychologist, University of Essex
Dr Hannah FrenkenClinical Psychologist
Kathryn GaffneyTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Valerie GajewskiPsychotherapist
Dr Eleanor GaynorCT3 psychiatry
Jane GilbertConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Guy GladstoneGroup Process Facilitator, child and adolescent psychotherapist
Dr Ciara GlennonClinical Psychologist
Nicole GluckmanTrainee Clinical Psychologist at University of East London
Hayley GoddardTrainee Clinical Associate Psychologist
Dr Shona GoodallClinical Psychologist
Lucy GormleyTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Samantha GothardConsultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Dr Hugh. Grant-PeterkinConsultant Psychiatrist. East London NHS Foundation Trust
Karoline Greve GrouleffTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Anjula GuptaConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Dr Ciaran MC HaleClinical Psychologist
Dr Simon HamiltonConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Fiona HamiltonDirector of Studies, Higher Education
Nicola HarrisTrainee clinical psychologist
Dr Carl Harris, Chair of the Community Psychology Section of the BPSClinical Psychologist
Dr Annabel HayesClinical Psychologist
Sue HaynesCounselling Psychologist
Dr Alexia HaysomPsychiatry Core Trainee
Dr Annabel HeaddonGP
Dr Cheyann HeapResearch Associate, University of York (former Clinical Psychologist)
Dr Sarah HendersonSpecialist Clinical Psychologist
Lauren HewittTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Lealah Hewitt-JohnsClinical Psychologist
Patricia HewlettPsychologist
Emma HickeyClinical Psychologist
Felix Higgins-StockdenTrainee Clinical Psychologist- Plymouth University & Cornwall NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Kate HightonConsultant Psychiatrist East London
Dr Richard HobbsSenior clinical psychologist
Dr. Cat HolliganST4 in General Adult Psychiatry
Dr Kathryn HollinsConsultant Child Psychiatrist
Dr Josanne HollowayConsultant Forensic Psychiatrist
Dr Charlotte HorsemanCore Trainee in Psychiatry
Dr Peter HughesPsychiatrist
Dr Mashal IftikharTrainee Psychiatrist
Lucy IsherwoodCounsellor
Debra jacksonSocial worker  CAMHS
Dr Katherine Jackson, ClinPsyD, CPsycholSenior Clinical Psychologist, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Muna JamaTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Rebecca JamesSystemic Practitioner
Dr Magdalena JimenezTrainee Psychiatrist
Dr Rebecca JohnsonConsultant Clinical Psychologist,
Dr Bob Johnson MRCPsych MRCGPConsultant psychiatrist, retired
Dr Lucy JohnstoneConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Rachael JonesTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Lynne Jones OBE FRCPsychConsultant child and adolescent psychiatrist
Rebecca JosephSpeech and Language Therapist
Marya KanwalPsychotherapist
Dr Alan KellasConsultant Psychiatrist
Dr. Claudia KempfenGP
Dr Joe Kibble, DClinPsyClinical Psychologist
Dr Susan KiddGP
Dr. Esther KiehlConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Danielle KingTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Georgia KingTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Julie KingstonPsychotherapist
Justin KingtonConsultant psychiatrist
L KnightCounselling Psychologist
Dr Kaaren KnightClinical Psychologist
Jacob KrzanowskiConsultant Psychiatrist
Aleksandra Kudlicka, PhD, CPsycholTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Sam KuokGP
Mr H T La MagaTrainee Psychotherapist
Dr Clare LambConsultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist
Dr Paul LeachGP
Kacey Leader BSc(Hons), Ad Dip. Counseling. MBACPCounsellor, psychological therapist and supervisor.
Sophie LeeTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Elanor Lewis-HolmesSpecialist Clinical Psychologist
Dr Ching LiCAMHS Psychiatrist, Tavistock and Portman
Dr Amy LinehamClinical Teaching Fellow
Dr Maria LoadesClinical Psychologist
Cheyenne LoanaPsychology student Liverpool John Moores University
Sarah LondonTrainee Gestalt Psychotherapist
Bell Selkie LovelockCounsellor
Trudi MacagninoPsychotherapist
Suzanna MackenzieCognitive Behavioural Therapist
Kindy MahalChild and Adolescent Learning Disability Psychiatrist, Oxford Health
Emily MaitlandPsychotherapist
Dr Aleksandra Matakovic MancaConsultant child psychiatrist NHS
Dr Jude MannPsychologist
Dr Constantina Markides (DClinPsy)Clinical Psychologist
Dr Elizabeth MarksSenior Lecturer, University of Bath
Dr Will MarshPsychiatrist
Dr Jon-Paul MarshallCounselling Psychologist
Dr Sean Maskey FRC PsychConsultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. Maudsley Hospital. London.
Dr Elanor MayburyConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Dr Ife May-ElegbedePsychiatry trainee
Jennifer MbanuTrainee clinical psychologist, University of Exeter
Kathryn McAreeTrainee clinical psychologist
Skye McDade-BurnChild Psychotherapeutic Counsellor
Samantha McDonnellPsychotherapeutic Counsellor
Dr David McKelveyGP
Alice McNamaraTrainee Clinical Psychologist, University of Southampton
Dr Catriona MellorChild and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Dr Pia MenziesConsultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Dr. Hugh Middleton MD, FRCPsych, MRCPAssociate Professor, University of Nottingham & Retired NHS Consultant Psychiatrist
Annie Mitchell AFBPsSClinical Psychologist; Associate of University of Exeter & University of Plymouth
Dr Rebekah MooreClinical Psychologist, Glasgow psychological trauma service
Hazel Morfett MScCounselling Psychologist in training
Dr Amber MorganClinical Psychologist
Dr Gareth MorganClinical lecturer, University of Leicester
Dr Amber MorganClinical Psychologist
Dr Mungo MorrisGP
Emily MortimerTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Ilyeh NahdiSpeech and Language Therapist
Dr Ian NerurkarGP
Dr Ian NeweyConsultant Clinical Psychologist
Liam NewtonConsultant Forensic Psychologist
Dr Angela NicholasConsultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist
Dr Sally NorwoodClinical Psychologist
Dr Tom NuttingPsychiatrist
Ruth O’ GormanTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Peadar O’GradyConsultant Child Psychiatrist
Susie OrbachPsychotherapist,
Dr Meltem OsmanClinical Psychologist
Maggie PalmerFamily Therapist SLAM NHS Trust
Dr Gemma ParkerClinical Psychologist
Charlotte ParkinsonPsychotherapist
Ms Krupali PatelTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Natalie PhillipsTrainer Clinical Psychologist
Jayne PigfordPsychotherapist
Rosie PillCognitive Behavioural Therapist
Dr Hayley PintoConsultant psychiatrist
Rob PooleProfessor of Social Psychiatry, Bangor University
Joanna PorterCognitive Behavioural Therapist
Dr Riddhi PrajapatiClinical psychologist
Dr Gillian ProctorLecturer in counselling and psychotherapy, University of Leeds and independent Clinical Psychologist
Dr Jethro PurkisPsychiatrist
Dr Jody QuigleyNHS Clinical Psychologist
Karen ReissmannMental health nurse
Dr Nick RhodesClinical Psychologist
Jenifer RichardsTrainee clinical psychologist
Stephanie RichardsonTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Emanuela RobertiPsychotherapist & Writer
Dr Rosa RobertsPsychiatrist
Dr Jane H Roberts FRCGP PhDGP; Clinical Lead for Youth Mental Health
Dr Elizabeth Robertson MBChB BSc MRCPsychPsychiatrist
Gavin Robinson.Counsellor and Sensorimotor Therapist
Dr Phaedra RobinsonSenior Clinical Psychologist
Dr. J RodgerConsultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Devon Partnership NHS Trust
Dr April RomneyEducational Psychologist
Annette RosPsychiatry CT2
Ali Rowe RMNFormer RMN
Ms Shira RübRegistered Clinical Psychologist, Independent Expert Witness, Children and Families
Dr Emma RussellClinical Psychologist
Dr Aruna SahniConsultant psychiatrist
Dr Chloe SakalPsychiatrist
Dr Judith SamuelClinical Psychologist
Sue SandersonEducational psychologist
Dr Chloe SaundersPhD Candidate and Psychiatry Registrar (MRCPsych)
Jon ScottClinical Psychologist
Jenny SecretanRetired counsellor/psychotherapist
Munzar SharifTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Georgina SherlingClinical Psychologist
Dr Kirsten ShuklaConsultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Oxford Health NHS Trust
Jasmine SchulkindPsychiatry trainee
Dr Marianna Siapera MD, MScSpecialty Doctor in Psychiatry (UK)
Dr Tim SiggsClinical Psychologist
Sally SkaifeArt Therapist
Dr Alison SmithClinical Psychologist
Evelyn SmithTrainee Clinical Psychologist University of East London
Dr James StewartPsychiatrist
Duncan StillGP, Bristol
Dr Hannah StringerClinical Psychologist
Dr Derek SummerfieldHon Sen Clin Lect, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London
Theo SunleyTrainee clinical psychologist (UEL / St Mungo’s)
Dr Emma SvanbergClinical Psychologist & Co-founder Make Birth Better CIC
Chloe TaylorTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Professor Eric TaylorEmeritus professor, King’s College London
Victoria TheocharousTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Lisa ThorneInterim CAMHS Lead for Psychology & Psychology Practice, Devon
Molly ThorntonCBT therapist
Dr Claire TileyChild and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Marian TitleyChartered Clinical Psychologist
Susan TomlinsonPsychotherapist
Dr Selina TourPrincipal Clinical Psychologist, Prison Mental Health
Ciara TrantTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Christopher B Travers BA BMBCh MRCPsychST4 CAMHS Psychiatry, North London
Dave TraxsonRetired Educational Psychologist
Dr Thanos TsapasConsultant psychiatrist
Dr Kellie TurnerClinical Psychologist, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board
Dr Maria G. TurriSenior Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Iona TynewyddSenior Clinical Psychologist
Dr Ashley VanstoneLecturer in Clinical Psychology, University of Bath
Hester VineyCounsellor & trainee psychotherapist
Sandro VoiTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Katie VossTrainee clinical psychologist Plymouth
Tony WainwrightSenior Lecturer, Clinical Psychology
Dr Alice WalkerClinical Psychologist
Professor Mike WangChair, signing on behalf of Association of Clinical Psychologists UK
Dr WarrilowClinical Psychologist
Dr Dawn WashingtonConsultant Forensic Psychiatrist
Ashley WatsonTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Dr Katie WattsCBT Therapist and Health Psychologist
Vicki WeareTrainee Clinical Psychologist
Sarah WebsterAssistant Psychologist
Sheeva WeilTrainee Clinical Psychologist, University of Hertfordshire
Louise WeisselOccupational Therapist & Access Consultant
Nikki WerkerCT1 Psychiatry
Dr Clive WestonClinical psychologist
Dale WhetterTrainee Clinical Psychologist, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Richard WhiteheadConsultant Psychologist
Rainbow Evelyn WilcoxEducational Mental Health Practitioner
Claire WillsherCognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist
Nicky WilsonGP
Dr Eric WindgassenConsultant Psychiatrist (retired)
Marion Winslow, M.A.Psychotherapist
Dr Mel WoodNHS Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist
Dr Hannah WrightClinical Psychologist
Dr Matthew YatesClinical Psychologist
Simon YoudanCognitive Behavioural Therapist
Dr Shuo ZhangChild and adolescent psychiatry trainee
Sally ZlotowitzClinical and Community Psychologist