An examination of stigmatising attributions about mental illness amongst police custody staff

Amy Wainwright, Dara Mojtahedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals who enter police custody may experience mental illness, making it highly imperative for custody staff to be knowledgeable and competent in this area- however, reports suggest this is not always the case (Leese & Russell, 2017). The present study examined the differences in casual attributions and stereotypes of individuals experiencing mental illnesses, mainly, schizophrenia between police custody staff (n = 77) and members of the general population (n = 85). Using the Attribution Questionnaire (AQ-27; Corrigan, 2004), the current study found that the general population held more negative attitudes towards individuals experiencing mental illnesses than police custody staff. In particular they endorsed the attributions anger, avoidance, dangerousness and fear. Custody staff were found to help vulnerable adults more than the general population. In addition, people who knew a family member or friend experiencing a mental illness scored higher on the help and pity attributions. Furthermore, police custody staff highlighted that additional training around mental health would be beneficial to their job role. Further development of an adequate measurement of attitudes of police custody staff towards mental health needs developing in order to put in place effective training.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101522
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Early online date6 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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