April 8, 2015: Toronto Police is starting their own “Vulnerable Persons Registry”. It is a voluntary list of individuals “who may have some limitations in their ability to communicate in a crisis which could compromise their own or officer safety.” The individual or their caregiver can add their name to the list including helpful information such as their likes, dislikes, triggering words, habits etc. “The registry’s implementation will mark a step forward for Toronto police in terms of interactions with vulnerable or emotionally disturbed people.” The Vulnerable Persons Registry aims to help police focus on de-escalation and provide them with information so they are not going into a situation with a lot of unknown variables. An example is given about an incident in Ottawa where their Vulnerable Persons Registry was able to provide information that avoid injury or potentially death:
Citing a case from Ottawa, where police have implemented a similar registry, Debbaubt said officers responding to a high-risk call for a young man wielding a knife used one tidbit of information to avoid a violent outcome: they knew he liked discussing hockey.“When the door was opened, he had the knife, and the police said, ‘We want to talk about hockey,’ and he put the knife down,” said Debbaudt, who helped Toronto Police develop the registry.“A standard approach would have been yelling: ‘Police.’ And it would have been totally different.” -Toronto Star, April 8, 2015
Very briefly was in mentioned that, in the mental health community, this Registry could be an issue when it comes to privacy; who has access to the information, will it be erased when the person no longer wants to be on the registry etc.
April 14, 2015: Tory Candidate in Cambridge, Chamali Fernando, suggested during one of her campaign speeches that people with mental health issues wear wristbands so they can be easily identified. She claims, ” the move could help police, medical and legal professionals understand otherwise apparently obstructive behaviour of someone unable to explain themselves,” and “She went on to suggest that a different coloured wristband for each mental health condition could improve the system.” Many immediately opposed to Fernando’s idea calling it “shocking” and “outrageous”. Fernando claims that her comments were distorted, but that has not stopped a petition from being created demanding that she step down from the election. One blogger pointed out that instead of wearing wristbands maybe a pink triangle or a yellow star would be good, alluding to what LGBT and Jewish individuals were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.
“There is already far too much discrimination against mental health throughout our society, and a wristband saying ‘I am depressed’ is not going to help. We need to massively improve mental health support, which has been not good enough for many decades. – Julian Huppert of the Liberal Democrats, 2015
Vulnerable Persons Registry
- Provides helpful information to police to potentially limit the amount of injury or death towards those with mental health issues.
- Could quicken the time it takes to find someone who is missing.
- Could lead to a better understanding of mental health issues but allowing police to understand that crisis situations can be de-escalated when they have the right knowledge.
- It is voluntary.
- List includes children as well as adults with other disabilities (autism, developmental disabilities etc.), any vulnerable person.
- Will caregivers, officers etc use the list appropriately?
- Define voluntary. Some caregivers may not act in accordance with the individuals wishes.
- Who will have access to this information?
- Will this information be erased when a person withdraws from the list?
- Will it be easy to withdraw from the list?
Overall impressions: I am suspicious and would never want to be on this list. I am pleased to see that there are positive examples of when information provided on these lists has de-escalated a situation resulting in the safety of both the individual and officers.
Mental Illness ID Wristbands
- Potentially provides people with mental health issues stylish wristbands.
- Demonstrates the still pervasive discrimination towards individuals with mental health issues.
- Quickly shows who people should not be voting for.
- Providing a visible marker puts people with mental health issues at risk for discrimination which could include physical violence.
- Disregards people’s right to privacy.
- The wristband could be ugly. What if I don’t like the colour of the wristband assigned to my disorder?
- No regard for what being blatantly labelled with a mental health issue could do to the individual.
- Another harmful idea wrapped in “helping” language.
- Demonstrates lack of knowledge around mental health and human rights
Overall impressions: Nothing good about this idea. It’s stupid, humiliating, offensive and I don’t even think I would wear a wristband stating my disorder even if it was from Tiffany’s and covered in diamonds.