Mental health: Calls to police rise a third in 5 years
Figures revealed by the Metropolitan Police have shown mental health calls received by the force are up a third in five years.
According to the latest set of statistics, there were 115,000 calls which included a mental health element to the Met between July 2016 and 2017. This would mean there are approximately 315 calls a day about the issue on both the 999 and 101 services.
The use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act – which allows the police to take people to a place of safety – had also risen dramatically – up 10% a year. The Met has also warned it could double in London within the next decade. 400 people are now detained under the Act each month.
To put the statistics in context, the Met received approximately 5 million overall calls to both services during the same period.
In terms of police units taking action as a result of the communication, 40,000 of the calls resulted in someone being assigned and sent out. This number includes 13,000 calls to mental health hospitals of which 4,000 had a specific unit assigned.
In the same period from 2011 to 2012, it was 86,520 calls or 237 a day.
The police said the calls often involved those in crisis, needing support from other emergency services, or local authority health assessments.
One in four
Head of safeguarding at the Met, Commander Richard Smith, said in response to the data that one in four Londoners would experience a ‘diagnosable mental health condition’, including people in custody who would need an assessment and a care plan.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said there was ‘more to do’ although spending on mental health support had increased to £11.bn last year, and it had seen ‘major improvements’ on access and waiting times for services.
But shadow police minister, Louise Haigh, said people were turning to the police as a last resort due to long waiting lists for mental health assistance.
She said: “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.”
Inspector Michael Brown, mental health co-ordinator for the College of Policing, said new guidance for officers had been published last year to assist with the issue.
He also said it was ‘critical’ to have effective partnerships with healthcare providers in order to ‘better understand the reasons why people with mental health issues are coming into contact with officers.’
He said: “Our role is to protect vulnerable people from harm and where necessary to work with other agencies to keep them safe.”
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