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Concerns raised about NHS staff being co-opted into policing duties under new counterterrorism scheme

A SECRETIVE new scheme involving counterterrorism officers and health professionals is sparking serious concerns about NHS staff being co-opted into policing duties.

Health charity Medact has raised serious issues in its new report out today about the little-known Counter Terrorism Clinical Consultancy Service (CTCCS).

It was launched in April this year after the tender of a £17 million police contract won by three NHS trusts. Units are located in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

The head of the service, Michael Nelson, said that the CTCCS can engage with any case referred by a counterterrorism officer where there is a concern about mental health.

Most of those investigated have no criminal history and many of them are children.

A senior clinician at the service anonymously told Medact that CTCCS is designed to facilitate the sharing of information in a way which does not “rely on consent.”

Before the launch, it existed as a pilot service called “vulnerability support hubs,” which Medact revealed in 2021 had targeted racial minorities and that a large proportion of the thousands referred were Muslim. 

Mental health staff embedded in the service translate medical information for counterterrorism officers, breaching professional good-practice guidelines, and without any involvement, permission or knowledge of the person being scrutinised.

According to Medact, the counterterrorism officers may then share information with GPs or other mental health professionals, along with possible requests to report changes in behaviour, including compliance with treatment. 

The report says this creates an “indirect surveillance relationship” between health professionals and patients, and that police requests may compromise a patient’s right to discontinue treatment since non-compliance could lead to police intervention. 

Author of the report Dr Charlotte Heath-Kelly said that the secretive working relationship between Counterterrorism Policing and NHS Trusts “raises deep concerns about NHS staff being co-opted into a policing function, surveilling patients and acting outside of their remit as health workers.” 

There have so far been no independent reviews in Parliament on the scheme.

Sarah Lasoye, campaigner at Medact, said: “The previous government’s failure to scrutinise this new programme, alongside its deeply biased review of the Prevent scheme, demonstrate an egregious dereliction of responsibility.

“We call on the new government to engage with longstanding, well-evidenced criticism of pre-crime policing programmes such as CTCCS and Prevent, which infringe on the rights of many.”

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