Mentally impaired detained overnight, forbidden to see social worker

The police have been repeatedly involved in scandals ranging from delaying emergency medical transfer to brutally beating up protesters. This time the police allegedly refused an injured person with moderate mental handicap from hospitalization and seeing social worker. This morning Hong Kong Social Workers’ General Union (HKSWGU) posted on its Facebook saying that at 2am today (18th) as informed by a lawyer, a moderately mentally handicapped holder of “Care Card” had been arrested and appealed to the case social worker to contact the Union. The post said the person holding “Care Card” was a mentally incapacitated person (MIP) who should be accompanied by a suitable adult. When social workers arrived at the police station, the police officers not only declined to admit that the arrested was injured, but also declined them from meeting the arrested for almost 9 hours.

According to the post, when the two social workers arrived at the police station at 2:45am, they were advised by staff of the solicitor’s office that the arrested had sustained injuries to the back of head, the shoulders and the incisors, as well as constant trembling with fright. The two police officers investigating the case, however, claimed the arrested had no injury and had already met with the supervisor at work, and therefore refused the arrested to be seen by social worker. HKSWGU quoted from the police force’s website which stated clearly that individuals with mental problem would have undergone an anxiety process even before they came into contact with the police, potentially resulting in aggravation of their symptoms. Mutual communication would be facilitated by trusted accompanying persons who could assist in allaying unease.

The social workers later enquired the lawyer over the phone the sites of injury of the arrested and tried to confirm the findings with the police, who claimed the arrested had be seen by the supervisor, that the supervisor said there was no problem, and the arrested said he needed not be sent to hospital. The police officers refused to produce their names and police identification numbers upon request. The social workers reiterated that the arrested was an MIP and incapable of deciding if he needed hospital treatment. The two police officers insisted that the arrested had no injury.

The social workers were also refused from attending to the arrested when they wanted to calm down the arrested and determine if the arrested needed to be sent to hospital. The duty station officer eventually appeared to respond to the social workers upon repeated request, that he was the one interviewing the arrested and admitted injuries were present according to computer records. The arrested would be observed to determine if hospitalization was indicated. He also produced his warrant card to the social workers. Up till 11:30am, HKSWGU revealed that the arrested was still forbidden to be met by the former school social worker, the only person familiar with the arrested.

It was allegedly a man who was arrested close to midnight and was still detained in Mongkok Police Station as at noon. HKSWGU said the police claimed at noon, 12 hours after arrest, that they would arrange for the person involved to go to hospital but it would take time as they were short of manpower. At around 1pm, the police explained to the former school social worker of the person involved that he had been taken to the doctor and medications were given. HKSWGU questioned the person involved might not have been sent to hospital as there would be lawyer’s record if that happened. It was also not possible to go to hospital and back within an hour. It further pointed out that MIPs should seek medical care from specialist, and urged the police to arrange for him as soon as possible an injury assessment in hospital.

HKSWGU criticized, “The police was unable to detect injuries in the MIP. Did they just miss it? Or did they tell lies and neglect their duty?” The Union also criticized that arrested persons were still denied basic human rights protection since the beginning of the “anti-extradition to China” movement. Particularly in this incident where a moderate mentally handicapped person was arrested, not only were social workers barred from following up the person, they were also uninformed of the sort of treatment to which he was subject. It was worrying the process would cause him psychological and emotional disturbance and adversely affect his rehabilitation. “The police has totally forgotten the case of mismanagement in obtaining statement from a mentally handicapped and autistic man of Mei Lam Estate in 2015. That is worrying!”

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