9 December 2019
Calls for a national review on the country’s ‘growing mental health crisis’ have been welcomed by Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton.
The national Federation has called for the review after an Institute for Government Performance Tracker 2019 survey found the number of mental health incidents involving police officers rose from 385,206 to 494,159 between 2014 and 2018, a rise of 28 per cent.
It also showed there was also a 13 per cent increase in the number of people taken to a place of safety by officers under the Mental Health Act.
Tony explained: “Police officers are there to help and will never turn their backs on someone in crisis. But they are not always the best people to help someone who is having mental health issues.
“Yet, in far too many cases they are left dealing with and supporting these people, despite not having the appropriate training and skills to do so.
“There needs to be more investment in the mental health support system so we have qualified health professionals to give proper assistance to those who need it. People with mental health issues should be given the proper care and attention which welfare and medical services should be providing. They are patients, not prisoners.”
National Federation chair John Apter says the country is in the grip of a ‘growing mental health crisis’ with police officers at the forefront of trying to protect and support vulnerable people.
“These figures show we have reached beyond tipping point, and we would welcome a wider public investigation into these important issues,” he said.
“Most people think a police officer’s time is used in dealing solely with crime. However, about 80 per cent is spent dealing with non-crime related incidents involving mental health situations.
“These situations are extremely complex and often involve individuals in such a state of despair they may wish to end their own lives or hurt other people. I personally know from 27 years of service as a police officer just how emotionally distressing these situations are for my colleagues.
“We urgently need a fresh investigation into this growing issue, where the emphasis must be on providing the best medical option for those in desperate need.”