Wednesday, 24 Apr 2024

Metropolitan Police officers will stop attending mental health calls

The Metropolitan Police’s commissioner has written to health and social care services to say their officers will no longer attend mental health calls.

Sir Mark Rowley did say officers would still attend if there was a threat to life – but the move is designed to free up officers to spend more time on their core duties.

He added that this would prevent police officers from taking on health responsibilities, The Guardian reports.

He’s given health services until August 31 until the Met starts its ban.

In his letter, Sir Mark says: ‘It is important to stress the urgency of implementing this in London.

‘Every day that we permit the status quo to remain, we are collectively failing patients and are not setting up officers to succeed.

‘We are failing Londoners twice. We are failing them first by sending police officers, not medical professionals, to those in mental health crisis, and expecting them to do their best in circumstances where they are not the right people to be dealing with the patient.

‘We are failing Londoners a second time by taking large amounts of officer time away from preventing and solving crime, as well as dealing properly with victims, in order to fill gaps for others.

‘The extent to which we are collectively failing Londoners and inappropriately placing demand on policing is very stark.’

Officers spend an average of 10 hours with a patient when they are sectioned under the Mental Health act – and this happens 500-600 times per month in London, a Met spokesman said.

Data from a national police study suggests officers spend almost a million hours a year waiting in hospitals waiting for mental health patients to be assessed.

That’s the equivalent of attending 500,000 domestic abuse incidents of 600,000 burglaries.

A similar programme has been in place at Humberside Police since 2020. They have mental health workers from charity Mind in the force control room to deal with some calls.

An inspection at Humberside found this had saved the force 1,100 police hours per month, and the public received ‘more timely care from the most appropriate care provider’.

In a statement the Met said: ‘Where there is an immediate threat to life, officers will continue to respond.

‘In the interests of patients and the public, we urgently need to redress the imbalance of responsibility, where police officers are left delivering health responsibilities.

‘Health services must take primacy for caring for the mentally ill, allowing officers to focus on their core responsibilities to prevent and detect crime, and keep communities safe and support victims.’

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