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Gloucestershire Police Federation

Fed said: Cutting back on the number of mental health calls officers respond to will mean they can devote more time to core policing

23 June 2023

Cutting back on the number of mental health calls officers respond to will mean they can devote more time to core policing tasks, Gloucestershire Police Federation has said.

Federation Chair Steve James was speaking after Gloucestershire Constabulary announced officers will only attend mental health calls when there is a risk to life or of serious harm. Calls will be handled by services who are trained in dealing with mental health, including those in social care and the NHS.

The Constabulary plans to implement the ‘Right Care, Right Person’ scheme developed by Humberside Police. Since making the changes, Humberside has recorded the highest arrest and crime detection rates in the country. The Met Police will also follow suit later this year.

Steve James said: “We are pleased to see the Constabulary looking to introduce the principles of the Right Care, Right Person scheme to Gloucestershire. We have long held the belief that dealing with mental health crises is a health issue, and not a policing issue.

“Over recent years, police have spent around 20-30% of their time dealing with mental health-related calls. This, of course, impacts on the amount of time that officers can devote to core policing tasks.

“Moving this workload back to healthcare partners is about more than reducing demand on policing, it’s also about providing the right patient care. Police officers are not mental health professionals. While they will always do their best to support people in crisis, and will always act to prevent risk to life, police officers are neither trained nor resourced to provide suitable care to those suffering from often acute, long-term mental health issues.

“This is a duty that should never have been picked up by policing in the first place. As with so much else, a decade of Government underfunding of many public services has seen policing become the service of last resort and fill the gaps left behind, as other services have shrunk. It is long overdue for Chief Constables to pass some of these responsibilities back to their rightful owners.”

 

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