Honorary Professor Duncan Chappell
1University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

In western societies since the earliest mental health legislation in the nineteenth century. It is only in quite recent times, however, and especially since the era commencing in the 1960’s of the widespread closure of most asylums for the mentally ill, that this role has become the subject of systematic research and analysis. This paper reviews these developments and the still evolving literature that has surrounded them. Police were suddenly confronted, especially in urban centres, with large numbers of people with disabling mental illness for whom there was no longer a residentially based mental health service, and frequently little in the way of a community based program of mental health care and social services. Progressive police forces sought new approaches to their involvement with PMI. The scholarly literature is reflective of this search from which emerged a variety of policing models, some more effective than others, designed to change police beliefs, attitudes and training about PMI while improving pathways for them to be referred to mental health services rather than processed through the criminal justice system. The paper concludes with references to several newly emerging issues affecting PMI as well as to the particular challenges of extending progressive PMI response models to police agencies in less developed parts of the globe.


Duncan Chappell, a lawyer and criminologist, is an Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney, and a Conjoint Professor in the School of Psychiatry at the University of NSW. He is a past President of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal; a former Deputy President of the Federal Administrative Appeals Tribunal; and a former Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology.



The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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