Plans To Ease Police Mental Health Callouts

POLICE officers will deal with fewer mental health emergencies thanks to a new model of working, the Home Secretary has announced.

Under the National Partnership Agreement, people experiencing mental health issues will be attended to by medical professionals as the priority, rather than the police as default, Suella Braverman said.

The new agreement will see extra investment in health support, and mental health ambulances sent out to people in distress, with the aim of saving forces hundreds of hours a month.

And there are plans to introduce 90 new mental health ambulances staffed by specialist staff, alongside improvements to NHS 111 and crisis phone lines.

It is based on a model developed by Humberside Police, called Right Care, Right Person, with the nationwide rollout being co-ordinated by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Zoë Wakefield said the programme would be an “amazing” improvement if it worked, but added a note of caution, given how chronically underfunded mental health services already are. She said officers are currently spending hours – often an entire shift – waiting with someone in crisis to get the help they need.

She said: “I think it would be amazing if it did happen, but I’d be very surprised because the mental health services are extremely under-resourced, under-funded. That’s the only way it’s going to reduce on us, is if all those other services are able to take that pressure off.

“As a police force, we will always go. If somebody is having a mental health crisis and they’re on a bridge over the motorway, we can’t say we’re not going. We have to go and we can’t ignore these people that are phoning us, phoning 999, and asking for our help when they’re in complete crisis. We’ve got nobody else to fall back on. Those people just aren’t there.”

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