Police Federation report 28% rise in number of mental health related call-outs

Calls to tackle the “growing mental health crisis” have been made as cases handled by police officers rose more than a quarter in the last four years.

The head of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, said a fresh investigation into the matter was “urgently” needed after it emerged the number of mental health incidents involving police call-outs rose by 28% between 2014-18, from 385,206 to 494,159.

The figures from an Institute for Government report also said there was a 13% increase in the number of individuals taken to a place of safety by officers under the Mental Health Act during this period.

Federation chairman John Apter (pictured) said the figures showed the situation was “beyond tipping point” and any review should focus on the best medical option for patients, adding: “This country is in the grip of a growing mental health crisis and my colleagues are at the very forefront of trying to protect and support vulnerable people.

“Most people think a police officer’s time is used in dealing solely with crime.

“However, about 80% is spent dealing with non-crime related incidents involving mental health situations.

“There is simply not enough investment in the mental health support system for the right number of qualified health professionals to give proper assistance to those who need it.

“Police officers regularly fill in for shortfalls in the mental health support system, even when we are perhaps not the most appropriate service.

“Those individuals with mental health issues should instead be afforded the proper care and attention which welfare services should be providing. They are patients, not prisoners.”

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