Mental healthPolice & mental health

Police dealing with record level of calls on mental health


One mental health call to police every 5 minutes

The Metropolitan Police managed 115,000 calls about mental health in 2016, up 33% from 2011-12. Britain’s biggest police force had a call relating to mental health every 5 minutes last year. These calls are due to an escalating level of need brought on by NHS services struggling to cope.

The number of calls managed by the Met concerning mental health hit 115,000 in 2016. This is a record number which works out at 315 a day, or about 13 an hour.

This amount has grown by a 3rd since 2011-12. Police officers fear the need for help from the general public will only increase.

A nationwide problem

One senior officer said cuts in NHS mental health services was a crucial factor in the rise in mental health phone calls. He stated that this was a nationwide pattern.

Inspector Michael Brown at the College of Policing Mental Health and Policing National Conference.

Inspector Michael Brown is the mental health coordinator for the College of Policing. He stated authorities had progressed to recording such calls, but this couldn’t represent such an increase.

” We know there is more demand on NHS mental health services and their funding has been cut,” Inspector Michael Brown said.

” We know that there has been a 60% increase in referrals to NHS mental health crisis teams but these services have had a cut in their funding.”

Police officers complain they end up picking up the pieces. Because the NHS is not able to help all individuals under its care.

Inspector Brown said: “Most people in contact with police about mental health issues don’t need the police, they need a mental health professional.”

Brown carried on: “The inability to access a mental health professional is the problem, and that generates a lot of work for the police.”

The struggle to find professional mental health treatment

Mentally ill people struggling to find professional help will commit crimes to gain treatment. For example, a woman on crutches walked a mile to smash a store window in Hereford. She then called the police herself. She did this in the belief this was the only method to access mental health services.

Police forces in England and Wales also report they are often asked to get involved with mental health illness sufferers.

Unpublished police figures on the number of times police powers are used to apprehend mental health patients under mental health legislation are anticipated to be at record levels when released. Having hit 28,271 in 2015-16.

In 2005-06, the mental health detention power was used 17,417 times.

The Met also expects to utilize powers to detain under section 136 of the Mental Health Act a lot more regularly in the years to come.

Leader Richard Smith, head of safeguarding vulnerable people at the Met, said: “Based on current trends, section 136 demand is set to double in London in the next ten years as it’s increasing by approximately 10% each year.”

Smith also said: “The issues we deal with include those with mental ill health who are involved in crime as victims or suspects as well as people who are in crisis in their home or a public place.”

Police think a large variety of those they get calls from are already under the care of NHS psychological services. Or they have been in the past. They (police) think this is starting to have an impact on policing.

Mental health nurses join police

Mental health nurse on the street with Sussex Police

In West Yorkshire, Community Psychiatric Nurses are being employed in two jails to assist with people brought in by officers. The force states the mental health events it deals with every month have risen to 1,300, up from 850 2 years earlier.

Street triage projects across Britain, where calls are tended to by a mental health expert and a law enforcement officer, revealed that in the bulk of cases, police officers were not required to deal with the problem.

In Lincolnshire, mental health nurses will now operate inside the police control room. The nurses will give medical guidance to police dealing with particular callers.

The Labour party obtained the Met figures. The complete data reveal that in the 12 months before 20 July 2017, the Met received 115,000 calls flagged up as a mental health involvement. This is up 33% on the volume of calls gotten in 2011-12.

The shadow police minister, Louise Haigh stated: “The taking apart of crucial early intervention services forces those with mental health concerns on to lengthy waiting lists.

wake-up call for the government

“In desperation or in crisis, they will turn to the police, who are acting as the service of last resort, a role they are wholly unequipped for.
While facing a savage cut in numbers, the police are increasingly being asked to pick up the pieces of a scandalous lack of mental health provision. Incidents involving mental health are at record highs as police resilience reaches rock bottom.
The result is genuinely frightening and these figures should act as a wake-up call for the government.”

A Department of Health representative stated: “Everyone should be able to access the mental health support they need. We have made major improvements in recent years, including setting up the first ever access and waiting standards for mental health and increasing mental health spending year on year to a record £11.6 billion in 2016/17.

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Alan is a mental health service user in Cornwall, UK. Although generally the NHS has been very good with his care, their are some weak links. Thats why he started this blog, to share experiences and resources on various mental health illnesses. Also, to bring the headlines about mental health to the foreground. Alan enjoys walking his dogs, taking photos, watching movies and playing the PS4 :-)

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