Ethics. Research. Community.

The evolution of the role of the police with special reference to social support and the mental health statutes.

Medicine, science, and the law. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
The role of the police at their formation centred around law enforcement (crime detection and apprehension of criminals) and crime prevention in order to maintain the peace. That role has been changing to keep pace with socio-economic developments. Thus, it has expanded to include the provision of social support. However, law enforcement, crime prevention and provision of social support often overlap. Also, though some studies have shown that much police time is spent on non-crime-fighting activities, other studies have found that lower-rank officers in general see their main role as fighting crime. That apart, the police have always had a role to play under the various mental health statutes: referring mentally disordered people to hospital, retaking absconders from mental hospitals, escorting patients from hospital or prison to court and vice versa, which are all tasks classifiable as provision of social support. Because of the complexity of his work today, the policeman may be described as an 'all-purpose public servant'.
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