In this blog, we hear from Dave Burnside, Jeremy Tumoana and Katey Thom following their travels to Edinburgh, Scotland to hear from people around the world about their approaches to ‘Law Enforcement and Public Health’. This was the fifth time the conference has brought people together who are attempting to bring a public health approach into law enforcement contexts.

Dave, Katey and Jeremy at the conference fresh after Jeremy completed his presentation for our related project looking at police encounters with citizens experiencing mental distress

Particularly striking to us were some amazing speakers who had their own experiences of police responses, incarceration, addiction and coercive mental health treatment. Emma McAllister’s presentation entitled, Don’t just do something, stand here: an autoethnographic account of police involvement in mental health, put a challenge out to audience to ensure lived experience is at the heart of all decision-making and advocacy across policy, practice and research. Callum Hutchinson told us about his transformation from years of incarceration and violence to a place where he now helps mentor others coming before the police. Joining us in our session where we talked about He Ture Kia Tika, was Mo Korchinski who presented a beautiful set of stories, poetry and artwork from women who had been incarcerated in Canada. We were grateful to pick up a copy of their book, Arresting Hope: Women taking action in prison health inside out.

Arresting Hope has been described as telling “a story about women in a provincial prison in Canada, about how creative leadership fostered opportunities for transformation and hope, and about how engaging in research and writing contributed to healing”. Mo also announced their second book has hit the press, Releasing Hope, exploring life following incarceration.

The presentations were powerful but were placed in unfortunate places on the overall programme (lunchtimes or, in our case, at the end of the conference). Most of the presentation represented a law enforcement focus. While this was interesting to see how police have been working with health professionals to become trauma informed and have better self care, it was noticeable to us that lived experience was not being placed centre stage. With some of the extraordinary registration fees for many conferences, the participation of people with lived experience is likely to be hampered. It is crucial from our perspective that police and the law makers often at conferences like this hear from those who have been impacted by their practices in the community.

We look forward to spreading the words of wisdom we collect through our whānau and hapori pūrākau in diverse spaces!

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