Published: Thu, November 29, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Global Positioning System dump mental health cases on us, complain police

Global Positioning System dump mental health cases on us, complain police

HM Inspector of Constabulary, Zoë Billingham, said: "Police officers naturally want to respond and do their best to support vulnerable people when they ask for help".

HMICFRS assessed the response provided by forces in England and Wales to people with mental health problems.

Assistant Chief Constable and Mental Health Lead for Devon and Cornwall Police, Jim Nye, said: "We recognise that our partners are working very hard to try to resolve this problem and this is something that we've raised with them". Over-stretched and all-too-often overwhelmed police officers can't always respond appropriately, and people in mental health crisis don't always get the help they need.

The report said emergency services "need to stop relying on the 24/7 availability of the police", but praised work done by North Yorkshire's force to improve how it dealt with mental health issues, even though NYP could not specify how many of its calls were mental health-related.

"We absolutely recognise that all public services are under pressure but people with mental health problems need better support from qualified experts".

In 2015, a mental health triage team was introduced in Wiltshire Police control rooms.

This figure excluded the Metropolitan police which dealt with a mental health call every four minutes and had to send an officer to deal with such a call every 12 minutes.

A year ago just five people alone made an incredible 8,655 calls to the Metropolitan Police, which cost £70,000 ($89,100) to answer. It cost Scotland Yard around £14,000 just to answer the calls of a single person who rang 999 more than 1,000 times in the space of a year.

The findings come amid intense scrutiny of police funding and performance.

Police funding has fallen by 19% in real terms since 2010, while officer numbers have dropped by more than 20,000 over the same period.

"But we can not expect the police to pick up the pieces of a broken mental health system".

We share the report's call for people with mental health problems to get appropriate help as early as possible to prevent them becoming acutely unwell - for example self-harming, suicidal or experiencing psychosis. All too often this isn't available at the time and place that they need it.

Forces are bearing the "intolerable burden" of a "national crisis" in mental health care as Global Positioning System, social workers and community health workers go home at 5pm and leave officers to deal with their patients. This is not a problem that the police alone can solve.

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