The Suicide Act 1961 decriminalised the act of suicide in England and Wales.

There is an image going around social media that purports to be of a letter, on police headed notepaper, written by a Police Liaison Case Manager, that appears to say that suicidal behaviour could be an offence and threatens legal action.

It appears there have been incidents of "loitering on bridges or rail platforms", and these have resulted in calls to the emergency services. It states that the subject could be held criminally liable for wasting police time or causing a public nuisance if others call emergency services in response to such behaviour.

Is this an accurate description of the law?

Transcript of image:


However, we also would like to point out to you that your incidents of apparent suicidal behaviour may cause alarm or distress to members of the public and staff members who witness them or who intervene on your behalf. As well as supporting you, we also have a duty to protect others who may be affected by your actions. Incidents on the railway can also impact others by causing disruption and delays to services.

The 999 system is for emergencies only, and should only be used if urgent attendance of Emergency Services is required —for instance, if someone is seriously ill or injured, or if a crime is in progress. There are limited emerciency resources available, and misuse of the 999 system may mean that someone who requires genuine emergency help may not receive it in time. Particular where an ambulance is called unnecessarily this could result in another persons death.

You have been with [name redacted] during several of these incidents, and we note that she has also made a number of 999 calls for incidents apparently concerning you.

Causing or allowing someone to call 999 your behalf when it is not an emergency as above, or behaving in a manner that causes someone else to be concerned for you — for instance by loitering on bridges or rail platforms - is also unacceptable and will be looked at the same way as if you had made the call yourself.

We do understand that you require support, and are keen that you continue to access to your mental health services for your well-being. However, we believe that you are using emergency services inappropriately in many cases and ask you to consider the effect and consequences for others by your actions.

If you commit any offences, such as trespassing or obstructing the railway, wasting police time or causing a public nuisance, this may now lead to legal action being taken against you. If you have any queries regarding this letter or would like any further assistance with support services, please contact any rnember of your care team or your GP.

Yours sincerely,

[name redacted]

[name redacted]

Police Liaison Case Manager

Barnet, Enfield and Haringey NHS MH Trust

1 Answer 1


If the repeated behaviour isn't genuinely an emergency, then yes.

It isn't the suicidal behaviour itself the the letter is about, but that the recipient requires attention from emergency services with such frequency that it is not reasonable to say that the suicidal behaviours constitute a real emergency. To that end, the police likely believe that this is a kind of attention-seeking behaviour where there isn't a substantial risk that the recipient is actually going to commit suicide, and the recipient's recent twitter history appears to be consistent with that theory. These kinds of actions can be exceedingly troubling to people who witness them, and when emergency services have to respond to them it takes away scarce resources that could be used to handle real emergencies. As a consequence, the police might feel inclined to lay charges like those mentioned in the letter in response, and they're sending the letter as a warning in an attempt to deter the behaviour without having to result to actually dragging someone through the legal system. To answer the question in your headline, in this context it is not material whether the recipient calls the police themselves, or that someone else calls the police as long as the reason for the call fits the pattern of behaviour.

  • 1
    This answer can be improved with legal citations from reliable sources, especially around the police statutory duties for safeguarding and recording crime
    – user35069
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 16:39
  • "recipient's recent twitter history appears to be consistent with that theory". Where did this come from? Are you aware of further details about the case in question?
    – User65535
    Commented May 23, 2022 at 6:43

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