Police Officers Can’t Cover All Mental Health Incidents

Officers don’t have the resources to respond to all mental health incidents, Hampshire Police Federation has said, after it was announced that Hampshire Constabulary will no longer respond to concerns about mental health if there is no risk to life, or crime being committed.

Hampshire Constabulary is following the lead of Humberside Police, which has tested the policy over the past three years and saved an average of 1,441 hours of police time a month. Lancashire Constabulary and South Yorkshire Police are also starting to introduce the policy.

Currently, some police forces in England and Wales attend 80% of health and social care incidents, which the new plans should reduce to between 20 and 30% within the next two years. The Government says it is providing an extra £1bn a year to cover the gap, including funding specialist mental health ambulances.

Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said: “Our Chief Constable, Scott Chilton, is really keen that Hampshire Police officers deal with policing matters and incidents where life is at risk.

“Sadly, due to the cuts to all public services, policing has been doing the work of other agencies for years now. At times, we don’t have enough resources to deal with all the police incidents being reported. There just aren’t enough police officers to do the other work as well.

“It is not unusual for police officers to spend hours, sometimes a whole shift, sitting with someone who is mentally unwell waiting for mental health services to take over.

“The same applies to when a child is taken into police protection – officers can be babysitting for hours waiting for children services to take over. These other services are as stretched as policing. The answer lies with the Government to properly fund all these public services.”

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